The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday proposed several changes in pesticide regulations designed to give industry more flexibility in meeting federal standards.

"This is a good example of this administration's desire to shift responsibility where practical from EPA to the regulated community without sacrificing necessary agency reviews and controls," said Dr. John A. Todhunter, assistant administrator for pesticides and toxic substances.

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, EPA is responsible for reviewing all pesticide products to determine if they meet federal standards and to register those that do.

EPA proposes expanding the number of firms that do not have to provide efficacy data on products and dropping requirements that the agency approve a product's final label and approve requests by firms that want to market pesticides already registered by other companies.

EPA has also proposed revising rules on child-resistant packaging. Among other things, EPA wants to allow firms that restrict their products to "servicepersons" -- that is, pest control operators, lawn specialists and janitors -- to be exempted from the requirements.

In a separate proposal, EPA announced that the procedures firms are supposed to use to gather the data they submit to EPA will be made voluntary now instead of mandatory.

Maureen Hinkle of the National Audubon Society compared the change to making the 55 mile-per-hour speed limit voluntary.