Pesticide Regulation in the EU and California

Chris Ansell

In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring about the hazards of the pesticide DDT and thereby helped to launch the modern environmental movement in the U.S. Since then, the use of pesticides has remained an important and contested environmental issue, though its early prominence has perhaps waned as the public has become conscious of scores of other environmental issues -- endangered species, climate change, air pollution, wilderness, etc. A preliminary analysis of three California newspapers (San Francisco Chronicle, LA Times, and the Sacramento Bee) suggests that coverage of the pesticide issue has slightly declined over the last twenty years. Nevertheless, pesticides remain intriguing because they represent such a multi-faceted regulatory issue. Pesticides are a food safety issue and debates about "residual" levels of pesticides in our food remain an important topic of concern. But pesticide contamination is also air and water-borne and thus closely connected to debates about air and water pollution. Pesticides also represent a serious occupational hazard for agricultural workers. This paper will examine pesticide regulation in the EU and California (and secondarily, in the U.S.) to evaluate whether regulatory cooperation between them is likely or possible.

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