The Adequacy of FIFRA to Regulate Nanotechnology-Based Pesticides


Courtesy of American Bar Association (ABA)

As applied to pesticides, the new and developing area of nanotechnology has the potential to bring real benefits, but also regulatory challenges. Reportedly, it has already begun changing the nature of some pesticides. There are consumer products on the market today using engineered nanoparticles of active ingredients such as silver to achieve antimicrobial effects, and many more are likely. Even as these consumer products are introduced, agricultural chemical producers are developing new pesticide products using nanotechnology to enhance the effectiveness or delivery of those pesticides. Among the uses of nanotechnology in agriculture currently being explored are agrochemical delivery (delivery of pesticides and other chemicals only when needed or for better absorption), nanosensors, and new or modified active pesticidal ingredients.

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority and responsibility to determine whether the benefits of pesticidal products developed using nanotechnology (referred to herein as “nanopesticides”) outweigh any risks, and to determine the conditions under which a nanopesticide may be registered so as to limit potential risks. EPA has stated that “[i]t is expected that pesticide products containing nanomaterials will come under FIFRA review and registration.”

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