Reliable Answers Needed In Benefit Assessments
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
David Brassard of Brassard Pesticide Regulatory Solutions has many years of experience working with the EPA. Based in Washington D.C., Brassard, along with his wife, Candy, now assist in getting new products registered for use with the EPA.
Brassard spoke with us about benefit assessment in regards to the EPA and pesticide regulation and how real data collection is a much stronger source of information.
“So there’s several ways of doing benefit assessment. For instance, back in the day, we used to have the National Agricultural Pesticide Impact Assessment Program (NAPIAP) getting farm advisers’ opinions and county extension agents’ opinions about what would happen if, say, we canceled chlorpyrifos,” Brassard said.
Brassard explained that when looking at benefit assessments alone, this testing could vary greatly from area to area. Compared to concrete data, benefit assessment can look unreliable in comparison.
“Frequently, you’d go to, say, Arizona. The guy from Arizona goes: ‘Oh, we get by without it just fine.’ Then right across the border in California, they’ll say ‘Oh, no. We can’t live without it. There’d be a 20% yield loss.’ There’s a lot of discrepancies in the kind of information that we would get,” Brassard said.
“When we actually dug into it, what we found was that if you actually relied on the hard data — the product performance data, the efficacy testing, what the yield difference is — you can get much more reliable answers,” he said.
These more reliable answers are important when producers are trying to maintain access to these products.
“There was a big movement in the ’90s, and I was at the forefront of it, of moving NAPIAP from the process of just asking expert opinions about what would happen to actually getting experts to pony up some data that would support their opinions,” he said.