The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)
FIFRA is a federal law that is administered as well as regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other environmental agencies of respective states. FIFRA, since inception, has undergone various significant amendments. The most notable is the 1972 revision of the then Federal Environmental Control Act (FEPCA). In 1972, FEPCA was able to expand the reach of EPA authority. EPA’s capabilities were heightened to new roles which included the preservation of human health and protection of the environment. To achieve this, three things had to be done, first was the strengthening the registration process endured by manufacturers of such chemicals and second was the enforcement of compliance. This second aspect is necessary when products are banned from circulation. The last concept aimed at raising the standard of the regulatory framework that was not present in the original law.
Evolution of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicides and Rodenticide Act.
The regulation of pesticides started long before man could fully achieve the dream to fly. In 1910, the Federal Insecticide Act (FIA) was enacted. The legislation was out to ensure that pesticides were of high quality and free from vices such as adulteration and fraud from players in the market who included manufacturers and distributors. The legislation in essence protected farmers as well as consumers of farmer’s products. Fast forward, World War II saw military research develop many chemicals that had insecticidal properties. Reducing food supplies during the war time made there to be appreciation of efforts that would add to the national basket. This propelled the use of pesticides in a bid to increase crop yield which led to high output attributed to lower pest damage. As reported by Finegan (1989), insecticide usage shot up from 100 million pounds in 1945 to 300 million in 1950. This was more than a triple increase. To this point, the 1910 FIA was sufficiently addressing standards for chemical quality. The effects of such chemical use especially to the environment were not put into consideration until 1947 when FIFRA Act was enacted to address the inadequacies of FIA of 1910. In 1947, FIFRA was being implemented and overseen by the U.S Department of Agriculture until 1972 when the mandate was transferred to EPA. With the transfer of mandate from U.S Department of Agriculture to EPA, came a shift of emphasis to environmental protection as well as public health. Congress has been tight with the environment and has been making changes and new legislations to that effect in quick succession. For instance, in 1988, 1996, and 2012 are years that have seen the congress make amendments to on FIFRA. In 1988, the congress required the re-registration of many pesticides that had been registered before 1984. The Food and Quality Protection Act of 1996 was used to amend FIFRA while the Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act amended FIFRA in 2012.
Regulations under FIFRA
For any chemical to be passed as a pesticide, insecticide or rodenticide, it must be subjected to an array of tests and data collection which inform decision makers of the effectiveness of the chemical in question on the intended use, right dosage, and potential hazards that can be attributed to the chemical Olexa (1992). The process of registering a chemical under the FIFRA category is thus tedious and expensive. This eliminates small players from the market due to increased costs as well as payback periods. FIFRA closes the doors on many pesticides since such chemicals are too hazardous for general use. Some chemicals are restricted to certified applicators. To qualify as a certified applicator, one has to pass FIFRA examinations and certifications that are designed for both the private and commercial level. Certified applicators are in a position to purchase and use restricted pesticides as long as they stay within the established lines since restricted pesticides are monitored. FIFRA gives a leeway to states to add rules and other requirements when it comes to pesticides in their jurisdictions.
FIFRA criminalizes the use, selling or distribution of a pesticide that is not registered with EPA as explained by Connelly (2003). In rare cases there are exceptions. EPA, upon reviewing a chemical, categorizes it as a general purpose, restricted or both. When a chemical is put under the restricted use category, it remains that the chemical in question cannot be used unless by a certified applicator who has specific characteristics. FIFRA is both enforced by EPA and respective states and by design, the authority of EPA rises above that of state. It means that a state’s decision can be rescinded if EPA deems it correct that a state does not give an assurance of safe use of pesticides. FIFRA gives EPA and other state agencies to interact with distributors and gives them the authority to inspect pesticides that have been put for sale or distribution. If EPA is convinced that a given pesticide is a threat to the environment and life, it becomes necessary for the agency to slap such a pesticide with a Stop Sale, Use or Removal Order (SSURO). This authority is meant to curtail violating pesticides by enabling EPA to seize such merchandise.
When found in violation of FIFRA, penalties can be assessed and accorded on civil or criminal bases. On a civil basis, violating businesses attract fines of not more than $5,000 for each offense while private applicators get no more than $1,000 if they exhaust the first warning. On a criminal basis, private applicators can attract not more than $1,000 with a possibility of adding to it 30 days in prison. Commercial applicators get not more than $25,000 and a possible 12 months behind bars. Manufactures get $50,000 and a possible 12 months.
In conclusion, it is important that the environment is taken care of despite the economic reward that might be attached to violating it. With this in mind, the U.S congress has found it in order to come up with legislations that see to it that the environment is taken care of. In doing so, future generations are assured to be heirs to a planet that will not only be fair to them but also to their generations too. FIFRA through the state agencies and EPA has been limiting the use of poisonous chemicals which trigger a chain of destructive events and processes.
Connelly, K. C. (2003). Pesticides and Permits: Clean Water Act v. Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Great Plains Nat. Resources J., 8, 35.
Finegan, P. A. (1988). FIFRA Lite: A regulatory solution or part of the pesticide problem. Pace Envtl. L. Rev., 6, 615.
Olexa, M. T. (1992). Pesticide Use and Impact: FIFRA and Related Regulatory Issues. NDL Rev., 68, 445.
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