The following is a memorandum from Vice President Al Gore to Secretary of Agriculture Daniel R. Glickman and EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner in regards to the Food Quality Protection Act. It is reprinted here in its entirety.
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT -
April 8, 1998
SECRETARY DANIEL R. GLICKMAN
ADMINISTRATOR CAROL M. BROWNER
FROM: THE VICE PRESIDENT
SUBJECT: FOOD QUALITY PROTECTION
In the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) of 1996, the Administration joined with the bipartisan leadership of the Congress and a broad array of agricultural, industry, and public interest constituencies to strengthen protection for all Americans from potential risks associated with the food they eat. The purpose of this memorandum is to reaffirm our commitments under the Act and to clarify how we plan to fulfill them.
The landmark protections established by this law, and in particular the new scrutiny given to potential risks to children, will ensure that Americans in the 21st century will have the safest food supply in the world. These protections can be implemented while we maintain our plentiful and affordable food supply and continue the significant increase in the net trade balance favoring United States agricultural production that we have achieved in President Clinton's Administration.
The FQPA is an important achievement in protecting public health, and particularly in addressing potential health risks to children. As President Clinton said at the time of signing the FQPA into law, this Act puts the safety of our children first. The broad consensus supporting the FQPA's new protection for our families illustrates the fundamental premise of the law's sponsors and President Clinton's policies that we can achieve higher standards of protection, especially for children, while preserving the strengths of our Nation's agriculture and its farm communities.
Implementation of the FQPA's stronger standards presents complex scientific and regulatory issues. As with any major change in the law and the regulatory process, numerous constituencies are concerned about the manner in which the new law will be implemented. There is broad consensus supporting the strengthened protection of the public that Congress mandated in this new law. There are corresponding concerns about potential uncertainty for those whose livelihood and practices are potentially affected as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implements the new law.
Accordingly, on behalf of President Clinton and in accordance with my responsibility for implementation of Executive Order 12866 (Sep. 30, 1993), I am requesting that the EPA Administrator and the Secretary of Agriculture work together to ensure that implementation of the paramount public health goals of the new law is informed by a sound regulatory approach, by the expertise of the Department of Agriculture (USDA), by appropriate input from affected members of the public, and by due regard for the needs of our Nation's agricultural producers.
In accordance with the provisions and policies of the FQPA and sound regulatory practice, EPA should work in close consultation with USDA, and USDA should devote sufficient resources to the FQPA regulatory process, to ensure that implementation of the law comports with the following four principles.
Sound Science in Protecting Public Health
Consistent with the provisions of the FQPA, EPA and USDA should work together to ensure that all FQPA decisions follow the Clinton Administration's principles for sound regulation.
1.Regulatory decisions should be based on the best science and data that are available.
2. EPA should continue to seek peer review and public review of its methods and approaches for analyzing potential risk under the new law, particularly with respect to models, exposure scenarios, and use of scientific inferences. Use of default assumptions and exposure scenarios should be carefully considered and fully explained in the public record.
3. In evaluating whether or not to remove or reduce the presumptive tenfold safety factor for risks specific to children, EPA should recognize the discretion provided in the current law. In this evaluation, EPA should exercise its discretion in a manner consistent with the intent of the Congress and the 1993 Report by the National Academy of Sciences concerning risks to children from pesticides. In developing analytical approaches for the exercise of this discretion, EPA should utilize external scientific review panels wherever appropriate.
In translating sound science into sound regulatory approaches, EPA and USDA should ensure that the decisions and positions of the two agencies are transparent to affected constituencies.
1. Approaches must be clearly and fully communicated in a manner that facilitates informed review by all affected constituencies.
2. Where there must be a selection among competing or alternative approaches or interpretations in implementing the law, alternatives should be fully presented and explained before moving forward.
3. In determining whether or not to seek additional data from the regulated community, EPA should fully disclose its decisions and reasons to the public.
for Agriculture Implementation of the law will require transition to new pest management strategies for certain pesticide users. EPA and USDA should work together to address transition challenges in future years.
1. I understand EPA does not intend any significant use cancellations in this growing season. If this should change based on new information, there should be immediate consultation with USDA and affected constituencies.
2. To the extent permitted by law and consistent with public health protection, EPA and USDA should implement the FQPA in a way that ensures that affected pesticide users and other affected constituencies have the time, technical assistance, and support they need for transition to new and effective pest management strategies.
3. EPA should facilitate transition to new and more protective pest management strategies by expediting approval of new products that may serve as effective and safe substitutes to pesticides that may present unacceptable risks under the FQPA. USDA should devote appropriate resources to research and expand technical assistance in support of integrated pest management strategies.
4. EPA and USDA should review their respective operating plans and budgets and identify, within 14 days, those additional resources and strategies that can and will be devoted to expedite new product approvals and expand integrated pest management strategies.
5. EPA and USDA should identify and implement any appropriate measures that will further streamline the process for responding to emergency pest management challenges, to ensure that EPA is able to respond promptly, and to preserve the FQPA's policies in emergent situations.
6. EPA and USDA should explore creative, common-sense approaches for achieving any necessary transitions such as targeting elimination of unacceptable risks to those products with known safe alternatives. In particular, EPA and USDA should consider the use of market-based and incentive-based approaches for transitions and the potential for cooperative partnerships with grower groups.
Consultation with the Public and Other Agencies
EPA and USDA should establish an effective means of consultation with user groups, pesticide manufacturers, environmental and public health organizations, and others concerned about FQPA implementation, while meeting the requirements and timetables set forth in the Act.
1. Within 14 days, EPA should consult with USDA and establish a mechanism for seeking advice and consultation from affected user, producer, consumer, public health, environmental, and other interested groups, following consultation with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Representation also should reflect the diversity of interests within and among affected user groups. USDA should participate fully in this process. All facets of FQPA implementation shall include appropriate input from state and local agencies, Tribal governments, Members of Congress, and the public.
2. At appropriate points in the regulatory process, EPA and USDA should consult directly with relevant offices of the Office of Management and Budget and the Food and Drug Administration, as well as any other Federal agencies or departments that may have data or experience relevant to FQPA implementation.
3. The Office of the Secretary of Agriculture should enhance its role in coordinating USDA's pest management policy. The Office of the Secretary should provide all appropriate support to implementation of the FQPA and this memorandum.
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EPA and USDA should provide an initial report to me on implementation of this memorandum within fourteen (14) days.
This memorandum is not intended to create any right, benefit, or trust responsibility, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a party against the United States, its agencies or instrumentalities, or any other person.
EPA shall publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
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