NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

EPA Being Forced To Interpret Delaney Clause Strictly

November 8, 1995

Talk about failure to apply cost-benefit analysis: the EPA is being forced to adhere strictly to an obsolete rule which will increase agricultural production costs - and consumer prices - more than $200 million per year.

At issue is the 1958 Delaney Clause, part of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act which prohibits any measurable residue found to cause cancer in animals or man in any processed foods. The Natural Resources Defense Council sued the EPA to enforce strict compliance and won.

  • "Measurable" back in 1958 meant measurement in terms of parts per thousand.
  • But today, we can measure in parts per trillion - and sometimes even parts per quintillion.
  • Thus, the EPA has no choice but to ban 85 uses of 38 active ingredients in pesticides.

Crops most affected would be potatoes, apples and sugar cane - which face 55 percent of the total potential costs. Production costs are expected to increase $175 million this year, and $212 million per year after that. Because massive doses increase the risk of causing cancer in laboratory animals, half or more of all substances cause cancer in rodent Maximum Tolerated Dose tests.

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) has introduced a bill that would implement "negligible risk" standards and thus introduce some sanity into pure food regulations.

Source: Michael Fumento (Reason Magazine), "How Pure Must Food Be?" Investor's Business Daily, November 8, 1995.


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