Work Sharing, Harmonization, and Technical Assistance
EPA works with other countries and international organizations to promote shared scientific and technical expertise, lessen the resource burden on governments and the regulatory community, and maintain high standards for the protection of human health and the environment.
Work Sharing and Harmonization
- China Collaboration
- International Food Safety Standards (CODEX)
- FAO/WHO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues
- Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for Classification and Labeling of Chemicals
- NAFTA Technical Working Group on Pesticides
- National Profile on the Management of Chemicals
- OECD Working Group on Pesticides
- International Program on Chemical Safety
- International Visitors Program
- Worker Safety and Training in Mexico and Central America
Based on mutual interest, EPA and China's Institute for the Control of Agrochemicals, Ministry of Agriculture (ICAMA), have initiated a program to share information about each country's system for pesticide regulatory management with the ultimate goal of improving food safety and the quality of pesticide products. This interest and desire for collaboration is the basis of the Letter of Intent to develop a program of cooperative activities, which was cosigned by officials of EPA and China ICAMA in 2007.
Both government organizations have begun sharing information about their pesticide management programs and are developing a workplan for the next few years. Areas of focus include pesticide registration processes and requirements, risk assessment and management procedures and policies, residue chemistry requirements, good laboratory practices for conducting studies, and pesticide usage.
This collaboration will facilitate greater harmonization of pesticide management in both countries, safer food, and international trade as China expands its pesticide production exports of pesticide products and pesticide-treated food commodities.
Learn more about EPA and China Collaboration.
The Codex Alimentarius is a joint food standards program of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The goals of the program are to protect the health of consumers and to ensure fair trade practices in food trade. Codex develops international food safety and quality standards, including Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for pesticides. Codex is recognized as an international standards-setting organization under trade agreements (such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures), which means that countries that adopt Codex standards enjoy a presumption that their standards are consistent with their trade agreement obligations, so long as the standards are applied fairly and other provisions of the agreement are met.
Many countries, especially developing countries, generally accept and use Codex MRLs as national standards. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), EPA must adopt Codex MRLs, where they exist, or publish a notice in the Federal Register explaining the reason for the deviation (e.g., if EPA scientists conclude that the MRL does not meet U.S. food safety standards or the needs of good agricultural practices in the U.S.).
EPA participates actively in Codex and contributes technical expertise to the development of these international standards and related policies.
Over 160 countries are members of Codex, and many other international organizations and consumer, environmental, and industry non-governmental groups participate as observers in Codex activities. For more information on Codex, visit the Codex home page.
Codex Alimentarius decisions on maximum pesticide residue limits are supported by risk assessments developed by independent international experts serving on the JMPR. EPA supports this process through funding and by providing expertise.
- Scientific experts invited by the World Health Organization (WHO) review toxicological and related data and estimate, when possible, acceptable daily intakes (ADIs) and acute reference doses (RfD) of the pesticides for humans.
- Members invited by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) review pesticide use patterns, data from supervised field trials and food processing studies, and pesticide chemistry data (storage stability, metabolism, methods of analysis).
- The FAO panel recommends maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticides and identifies the specific pesticide residues to be monitored for MRL enforcement by governments.
- Risk assessments for potential chronic health effects are based on the pesticide’s ADI or RfD combined with data on likely dietary exposure, given different regional diets, while assessments for potential acute effects consider exposure at the maximum amount of the food expected to be consumed during a one-day period.
GHS is an international effort to establish a universal set of classification criteria for communicating physical, health and environmental hazards of pesticides and other chemicals. Efforts to develop GHS began in 1992, and after nearly 15 years of work on the details of GHS, many countries are now ready to begin GHS implementation.
As called for by the International Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS), the U.S. and a number of other countries developed National Profiles on the Management of Chemicals in January 1997. These National Profiles are intended to indicate current capabilities and capacities for management of chemicals and identify program needs. For a list of countries with national profiles, refer to UNITAR/IOMC National Profile Programme. The U.S. National Profile is available for viewing on their Web site.
Note, the U.S. National Profile is maintained here only as an example of the activity; some of the information may be outdated and thus, other information sources regarding US chemicals management programs should be consulted.
The IPCS was created in 1980 to support activities related to chemical safety. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the International Labor Organization (ILO), and World Health Organization (WHO) cooperate to form the IPCS. A network of national, regional and international participating institutions, either governmental, intergovernmental or nongovernmental, participate in the IPCS by undertaking specific scientific or technical activities and providing financial and human resources. For more information about the IPCS, refer to the IPCS home page.
OPP maintains an extensive international visitor program, including arranging meetings for foreign visitors on specific topics of interest ranging from regulatory policies to scientific evaluation procedures. OPP is host to approximately 100 foreign guests each year. Learn more about EPA International Visitors program.
Training is essential for the proper use of pesticides, both to protect workers and their families as well as to assure a healthy food supply. EPA supports training in Mexico and Central America, an important trade region for fruits and vegetables. In addition, migration of farm workers between this region and the U.S. is significant. Hence EPA training efforts, in cooperation with other national governments and partners, promote health and safety throughout the Americas.