Grain Fumigation

A Multifaceted Issue Needing Coordinated Attention Gao ID: CED-81-152 September 10, 1981

Despite many years of using fumigants to eradicate insect pests from grain and grain products and despite the involvement of many government agencies in various facets of this activity, fumigant problems remain and much still needs to be learned about fumigants and their effects on vegetation, pests, and humans. A number of fumigant-related problems were identified by GAO, including the federal government's fragmented involvement in this area.

The work done by GAO disclosed that: (1) grain workers are exposed to potentially unsafe fumigant levels; (2) workers' concerns about health as a result of fumigant exposure have strained relations between some company and union officials and among other parties involved in shipping, handling, and storing grain; (3) potentially harmful fumigant residue has been found in some food products; and (4) a need exists for more knowledge about fumigants and their effects to either reduce current unwarranted anxiety levels or result in documented support for stronger, future precautionary measures. GAO further pointed out that the federal approach to the subject is fragmented; each agency often works independently without any one agency having a good overview of all that is going on. As a result, work may be duplicated among agencies, and lines of responsibility are not always clear. GAO believes that the Interagency Regulatory Liaison Group, established to allow participating agencies to work closely together on topics that cross agency lines, is a proper forum to bring various agencies together and provide the overseer role that is needed.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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