Regulating Pesticides

August 6, 1999 • Volume 9, Issue 29
Does the new crackdown go far enough -- or too far?
By David Hosansky

Introduction

A crop-duster drops some of the nearly 1 billion pounds of pesticide used annually by U.S. farmers. (Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture)
A crop-duster drops some of the nearly 1 billion pounds of pesticide used annually by U.S. farmers. (Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Three years after Congress passed the sweeping Food Quality Protection Act, the government is still struggling to determine safe pesticide levels. Now the Environmental Protection Agency has announced sharp limits on two chemicals widely applied to apples and other produce. New research indicates that pesticides can cause cancer, reproductive problems and developmental disorders. Pesticides also endanger agricultural workers and homeowners who use them in their houses and lawns. Wildlife is threatened because the chemicals can contaminate the entire food chain. But farmers and chemical manufacturers worry that the government may go overboard with new regulations, threatening their ability to maintain an abundant food supply.

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