Journal of Commerce, February 6, 1990


In a move to improve the safety of imported food, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it was toughening rules on exporting pesticides banned in the United States.

At the same time, the agency levied over $600,000 in fines against five ompanies that it alleges broke existing export rules.

Most of the fines were imposed on Mobay Corp. of Pittsburgh (a subsidiary of the German company Bayer A.G.) and Shield- Brite Corp. of Kirkland, Wash., for repeated violations of labeling and paperwork requirements. The pesticides involved are all banned in the United States.

"Because of the concerns about the safe use of pesticides both internationally and in the United States, the EPA will take increasingly more stringent enforcement actions," said Linda Fisher, EPA's assistant administrator for pesticides and toxic substances.

The new rules, announced Friday, extend the number of exported pesticides covered by the previous rules; require that labels and paperwork be multilingual and force shippers to disclose the country of final destination and the full ingredients of a pesticide.

The new rules also require the EPA and manufacturers to keep foreign governments notified of regulatory actions involving the pesticides.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency regulates pesticide use in the United States with a system of permits, the agency has little authority to prevent the export of agricultural chemicals that are not registered here. Dockside testing of imported crops is supposed to stop most of the food laden with dangerous levels of pesticide, and the export rules are seen as a second way to reduce the threat of these chemicals.

The fines levied Friday indicate the government's resolve to police these exports. Mobay was fined $314,000 for 110 counts of export violations, involving mislabeling pesticides bylabeling them only in English, and omitting the warning "Not registered for use in the United States of America."

Shield-Brite was fined $222,000 for 74 counts, Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich. was fined $22,400 for eight counts, Exxon Chemical Co. of Bayport, Texas, was fined $19,600 for seven counts and Rohm and Haas Co. of Philadelphia was fined $36,000 for 12 counts.

All the alleged violations took place in 1989.