History of Pesticide Regulations

Source: PPP-24 Pesticides and the Label pgs 1-9
Purdue University

The federal government has regulated pesticides since the early 1900s. Originally, pesticide regulation emphasized consumer protection from fraudulent claims about product performance. The focus now has shifted to the protection of human health and the environment. Following are brief descriptions of laws applicable to pesticides regulation.

Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1906 (FFDCA, or Pure Food Law) Guaranteed the wholesomeness and truthfulness of labeling for foods, drugs, and cosmetics being offered to the public.

Insecticide Act of 1910
A consumer protection law which was intended to prevent the manufacture, sale, or transportation of impure or improperly labeled insecticides and fungicides.

FFDCA as amended in 1938
Changed FFDCA to include regulation of pesticides on food. Required the adding of color to white insecticides to prevent their accidental use in cooking.

Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act of 1947 (FIFRA)
Replaced the Insecticide Act of 1910
Required the U.S. Department of Agriculture to register all pesticides. Extended coverage to include herbicides and rodenticides. Established standards for label content.

FFDCA as amended in 1954 (The Miller Act)
Section 408 authorized the establishment of tolerances for pesticide residues in food.

FFDCA as amended in 1958
Section 409 established a general, risk-based safety standard for food additives. The Delaney clause prevented establishment of food and feed additive tolerances for any pesticide that causes cancer in laboratory animals.

FIFRA as amended in 1964
Required USDA secretary to refuse registration of pesticides that were unsafe or ineffective and to remove them from the market.
Also required that:
1. All pesticide labels contain a USDA registration number;
2. The front label of all pesticides include the words caution, warning, or danger, and “Keep Out of Reach of Children”;
3. All safety claims be removed from labels.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency formed in 1970
A dramatic change in federal regulation of pesticides occurred in 1970 when Congress transferred administration of FIFRA from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the new Environmental Protection Agency. Federal Policy shifted from the control of pesticides for reasonable safe use in agricultural production to control of pesticides for reduction of unreasonable risks to humans and the environment. The authority to establish pesticide tolerances on food was transferred from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to EPA. However, enforcement of tolerances was to remain the responsibility of FDA.

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