Opinion: It’s time for EPA to encourage scientific input, not shut it out


By American Feed Industry Association, American Chemistry Council, National Turkey Federation, National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association

via Agri-Pulse on 06/21/22 1:17 PM


It may be easy to overlook chemicals’ critical role in our lives, but make no mistake: the nation depends on the chemical sector. Safe drinking water, plentiful food supply, abundant energy and life-saving medicines—these are just a few examples of essential products that depend on chemicals.


Formaldehyde, a naturally occurring substance found within all living things, is a common denominator for critical industries across the economy—from agriculture to construction, health care, aerospace and more. Consider, for example, that formaldehyde is an essential disinfectant and sterilizer in agricultural production, helping American families access safe meat and poultry products. Formaldehyde helps combat outbreaks of highly contagious viruses that threaten animal health, such as African Swine Fever (ASF), which could cost the U.S. economy nearly $50 billion in the event of an outbreak.


In any industry, effective regulation helps establish safe, sustainable business practices. When government chooses to limit legitimate dialogue, it often does more harm than good.


Unfortunately, such is the case with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed assessment for formaldehyde within its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program, which was released for public comment in April 2022. With the formaldehyde assessment totaling more than 2,000 pages, it is simply unreasonable to expect engaged stakeholders to provide constructive comments on the assessment within a 60-day comment period.


To that end, we’re discouraged that EPA rejected calls to extend the public comment period from a broad coalition of stakeholders seeking adequate time to thoroughly review and provide input on the assessment. Additional time and consideration are essential, especially considering that the assessment will inform future regulations capable of disrupting critical supply chains. 


Leaders in both parties—and both chambers of Congress—have demonstrated growing interest in ensuring EPA’s IRIS program and its draft formaldehyde assessment possess a high standard of scientific and regulatory integrity.


Democratic legislators Reps. Joyce Beatty (OH) and Sanford Bishop (GA) requested that EPA allow greater time for interagency review of the draft assessment—particularly from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), two agencies most familiar with formaldehyde’s agricultural applications.


Led by Rep. Mike Carey (R-OH), a group of eight congressional Republicans initially raised concerns in April that the draft assessment was “rushed” and “without the benefit of the best available science.” These concerns were echoed by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance in an April opinion piece and by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) in a March letter to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and EPA...


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