Vector Control, Saving Lives

Regulation must protect but not stifle innovation

Young African women will benefit from an improved regulatory process
22 April 2015
Lois Rossi

Pesticide regulation.  Two words, separately or together, that send shivers down the spines of those on the left and right of the political spectrum.  The words conjure up lengthy risk assessments, decisions written in the language of regulation, and long product labels with lots of small print.

Who grows up wanting to be a pesticide regulator?  It’s unlikely to be a career competing for the top slot among school children.  I have been a government pesticide regulator for my entire career.  Completing a 30 plus year career with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in September 2014. 

What kept me interested for so long? It was a perfect fit for an academically trained zoologist and biostatistician/epidemiologist with a desire to change the world. 

Protecting public health and the environment was the criteria for every single pesticide product decision. At the same time, recognizing the value of pesticide products that allow farmers to produce a diverse, plentiful, affordable food supply, protect houses from being destroying by termites, and protect people from vector borne diseases.

Every single decision made on a pesticide product had an immediate impact on society in some way, nationally and sometimes globally. Every decision made a difference. 

The bar is high. To gain and maintain trust and confidence regulation must protect, but not stifle innovation.  In the case of pesticides, a sound regulatory process must also encourage the innovation of safe, effective pesticides to deal with constantly changing pest problems.

Immediately upon retiring from EPA I accepted a position with IVCC to manage the regulatory process for three new insecticide active ingredients with different modes of action.  The goal of the work is to help eradicate malaria!  Pretty much a dream job—to move directly into managing the approval process for insecticides targeted at controlling this global vector borne disease. What better way to put my experience to use—helping to save lives, and really making a difference to the lives of millions of people.

At IVCC I will be working with companies developing new insecticides, to get products available for use in the shortest time possible without sacrificing the quality and thoroughness of the regulatory review. I will help with the development of high quality, complete data packages supporting the safe, effective use of the new products for submission to national regulatory authorities and international review bodies.

Regulation of insecticides is absolutely necessary. It protects people and the environment from unintended adverse effects from their use.  At the same, because public health insecticides play such a vital role in saving lives and improving life chances for millions, regulation must also facilitate development of these essential new chemistries that protect people from vector borne diseases. It’s all an integral part of this great mission to eradicate malaria and change the world.

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