EPA officials say the consequences of climate change, such as rising temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns, may require the agency to conduct periodic reviews of pesticides more frequently than the 15-year timeframes currently required under FIFRA.
The question of whether to modify its review schedule was one of several questions that EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) put to its pesticides Science Advisory Panel (SAP), which met on Dec. 7 to consider the effects of climate change on an array of research and regulatory activities.
The panel also considered how climate change would affect the parameters that OPP uses to construct risk-assessment models, the extent to which a changing climate will shift regional crop patterns, the use of historical data in risk assessments and how far back EPA should go in compiling historical data sets to predict future weather patterns.
Joel Scheraga, a senior adviser for climate adaptation in EPA's policy office, told SAP that OPP's outreach was part of the agency's broader efforts to incorporate climate change adaptation in policymaking. He noted that EPA rulemaking up until now has relied largely on scientific models that assume stability in the climate, for example observing how pesticide and sediment runoff from fields proceeded historically to predict how runoff would function in the future.
Panel members offered mixed views on whether EPA should shorten the review time frame, noting in part the uncertainty in climate models.