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Facilitating the regulatory approval of crop protection chemicals on food crops continues to be the central objective of the IR-4 Project.

Research Activities
Since 1963, IR-4 stakeholders have submitted thousands of requests for assistance. The potential researchable projects to address these requests are prioritized each year at the annual IR-4 Food Use Workshop. From there, field trials are assigned to IR-4 Field Research Centers and sample analyses to Analytical Laboratories at the SAES or USDA-ARS facilities. All studies are conducted under Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Good Laboratory Practice standards. When necessary, other cooperating facilities or contractors are utilized to ensure projects are completed in a timely manner.

In most studies, the chemical is applied in the field in a manner that simulates proposed grower use of the product on the target specialty crop. When the crop growth has reached the appropriate stage, samples of the crop are collected and shipped to the analytical laboratory where the amount of chemical remaining in or on the crop is determined. Field and laboratory data from this research are compiled in regulatory packages (petitions) and submitted to the EPA, requesting establishment of new tolerances (Maximum Residue Limits or MRLs).

EPA has challenged IR-4 to bundle as many uses as possible for each chemical into single petitions, thus allowing EPA to make the most efficient use of their time and resources. IR-4 works closely with registrants to develop registration strategies for each active ingredient and to secure all the registration documents required in an IR-4 petition submission.

Crop Grouping and global Harmonization Activities
Crop grouping enables the establishment of residue tolerances for a group of crops based on residue data from representative crops from the group or subgroup. The IR-4 Project, with support from the International Crop Grouping Consulting Committee (ICGCC), continues to lead an effort to update the EPA crop group regulation to not only incorporate “orphan” crops that are not members of a crop group, but also to develop new crop groups. The ultimate goal is for IR-4 to assist U.S. specialty crop growers through efforts to globally harmonize the crop grouping system. IR-4 is also supporting international competitiveness of U.S. specialty crop producers by using IR-4 data and resources to harmonize U.S. pesticide tolerances and international MRLs to eliminate pesticides as regulatory barriers to international trade.