Spray Drift: Comments Raise Concerns

In the March 2010 issue of CropLife® (“Coming To A Head,” March 2010), we discussed the status of EPA’s Pesticide Drift Labeling Notice (PR Notice 2009-X), which was issued on Nov. 4, 2009. EPA issued PR Notice 2009-X to advance its goal of establishing clear and concise labeling statements that would ultimately lead to reduced off-target pesticide drift.

EPA requested public comment on this notice and the time for submitting comments closed on March 5, 2010. An analysis of the comments submitted to EPA by the industry demonstrates that the regulated community has significant concerns with the most recent proposed drift labeling language.

The crop protection industry supports EPA’s general objective of reducing off-target pesticide drift while promoting consistency and clarity among pesticide labels, but the best path to getting there has been a point of debate.

The quest for comprehensive drift labeling actually dates back to 2001. EPA issued Draft Pesticide Registration No­tice 2001-X: Spray and Dust Drift Label Statements for Pesticide Products (“PR Notice 2001-X”) to provide comprehensive guidance for pesticide drift labeling, with a focus on proposed changes to generic pesticide drift label language statements.

Many stakeholders submitted comments on a variety of aspects concerning PR Notice 2001-X. Ultimately, after EPA’s review of the public comments, draft PR Notice 2001-X was not finalized.

The issue was revisited with the development of PR Notice 2009-X, which took into account the public comments it received on draft PR Notice 2001-X. Once again, EPA requested and received numerous public comments urging it to either revise or withdraw the proposed labeling changes.

A review of the comments published to date indicate that industry stakeholders have substantial concerns about PR Notice 2009-X — specifically that it abandons the statutory language of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Ro­denticide Act (FIFRA), creates an unachievable zero drift policy, does not provide for any real risk assessment, and does not provide registrants with adequate time to implement the proposed label changes.

Undermining FIFRA

Many stakeholders are concerned that use of the proposed terms “could cause” or “may cause” deviate from the statutory standards set forth under FIFRA. Under FIFRA, the appropriate standard by which to evaluate pesticides is whether the pesticide causes an “unreasonable adverse effect.” FIFRA defines an unreasonable adverse effect as “any unreasonable risk to man or the environment, taking into account the economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits of the use of any pesticide.”

By not using a risk-based approach to evaluate pesticides, EPA appears to be abandoning the “unreasonableness” aspect of potential drift effects. PR Notice 2009-X fails to account for the “economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits” of the use of pesticides. This proposed shift from “unreasonable adverse effects” to “could cause” adverse effects is problematic. The mere detection of the active ingredient of a pesticide at de minimis levels does not necessarily create any risk of an adverse event, or even indicate that the pesticides were misapplied.

Zero Drift Policy

FIFRA authorizes EPA to register pesticide products by engaging in a risk-benefit analysis for each pesticide submitted for registration. This analysis helps EPA determine, among other things, whether the pesticide label is appropriate. If, based on its risk assessment, EPA determines that the applicant-proposed labeling does not prevent unreasonable adverse effects from use of the pesticide, it may suggest revisions to the labeling.

EPA previously recognized that technology and methodology helping to prevent pesticide drift was continually improving, and that while responsible applicators try to control drift, “there will always exist controllable and uncontrollable factors which lead to drift, potential exposures, and risks of harm. The factors that contribute to drift are unique to each application and depend on weather, the application site, application equipment, and applicator behavior.”

The issue, according to stakeholders, is not whether a pesticide drifts — some level of drift will almost always occur. It is whether the drift presents “unreasonable adverse effects.” Under PR Notice 2009-X, EPA would apparently no longer engage in this type of FIFRA-mandated risk analysis. Instead, PR Notice 2009-X essentially sets up a “zero drift, zero exposure policy.”

In a letter to EPA, Rep. Collin C. Peter­son (D-MN), chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ag­riculture, effectively captures this concern by stating that the current language “if left intact, would represent an extraordinary shift to a zero tolerance risk standard for off-target spray drift.” Such a shift is inconsistent with the risk standard established by FIFRA, he says. A “policy based entirely on exposure or the mere presence of a pesticide at any level is technically unachievable and inconsistent with EPA’s FIFRA mandate.”

Under a “zero drift” policy, a violation of the pesticide label would apparently occur whenever any drift contacts a non-target organism or site. Such a policy could cripple the ability of applicators to apply pesticides. The problematic nature of a zero drift policy was previously discussed by EPA when it acknowledged that “some de minimis level of drift would occur from most or all applications as a result of the uses of pesticides.” This is now truer than ever as technological advances allow for the detection of pesticides at extremely low rates, a fact that PR Notice 2009-X does not adequately take into account.

Time To Implement Changes

If EPA opts to not make any changes to PR Notice 2009-X and it is finalized as written, product labeling in compliance with PR Notice 2009-X must be submitted with the registration materials for any product not yet registered with EPA. Under the rules, registrants of existing products will have between six and 12 months to submit new general drift labeling statements to EPA.

Many stakeholders believe that this amount of time is insufficient and have requested a minimum of 24 months to comply with the requirements of PR Notice 2009-X. It is generally believed that two years is a more reasonable amount of time to review current labels and implement any newly required language.

EPA is again proposing revisions to the required pesticide drift language used on pesticide products. And once again, the public comments submitted by the agricultural industry illustrate some very real concerns. Specifically, stakeholders are concerned that the proposed language sets an unachievable standard, inconsistent with FIFRA’s risk-benefit approach, which may ultimately result in unwarranted litigation against growers, applicators, homeowners, and other regulated individuals. Whether EPA will heed these legitimate concerns is yet to be seen.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Legislation Stories

Pipe rack
LegislationCourt Sides With Ag Retailers On PSM
September 23, 2016
The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
LegislationOhio Soybean Association Names Pat Tiberi Legislator Of The Year
August 3, 2016
The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) has announced that Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-OH) has been named one of two Legislators of Read More
Soybean Field
LegislationOhio Soybean Association Names Brian Hill Legislator Of The Year
July 19, 2016
The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) has announced that State Representative Brian Hill (R-Zanesville) has been named one of two Legislators of Read More
Grower Truck at retailer
CropLife 100ARA Seeks Comment on Ag Driver Sleep Apnea Issue
July 5, 2016
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) are seeking public Read More
Trending Articles
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Crop InputsBayer-Monsanto Mega-Merger: 6 Things You Need To Know
September 14, 2016
Mega mergers have become almost routine in the agricultural industry. Right on the heels of Monday’s news that fertilizer giants Potash Read More
Potash Corp Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium, Potash Corp To Merge To Create $36 Billion Company
September 12, 2016
Canada’s Agrium Inc. and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc. have agreed to combine in a deal that would create a Read More
Osage Co-op Elevator Osage, IA Finished Building
OpinionAre We Crazy?
September 8, 2016
At some point in the first few months of my employment here at CropLife® magazine, I started getting curious about Read More
ManagementMAGIE 2016 Highlights and Deere Anti-Trust
September 1, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj discusses the recent Midwest AG Industries Exposition and the Department of Justice’s objection to John Deere Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
Latest News
CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
CropLife 100Farmers Union Oil Co. Votes To Join CHS
September 30, 2016
Eligible voting members of Farmers Union Oil Co., a diversified agricultural retailer based out of Oslo, MN, have cast affirmative Read More
EmployeesOABA Program Develops Future Generation Of Agribusiness…
September 29, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association will select up to 25 promising leaders to participate in a leadership enhancement program early next Read More
ManagementThoughts on CropLife America and the PSM Appeal
September 29, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the recent CropLife America annual meeting and the successful appeal of the Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsMarrone Bio Innovations’ SVP And Chief Sustainability O…
September 29, 2016
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc., a leading provider of effective and environmentally responsible pest management and plant health products, announced today Read More
Young Corn Field
StewardshipStudy: Ohio Farmers Doing ‘A Good Job Of Managing…
September 27, 2016
Leaders from Ohio’s largest grain farming organizations announced today that Ohio farmers are doing their part in effectively managing phosphorus Read More
Growmark FS Outlet
Industry NewsGROWMARK To Purchase Suncor’s Share Of UPI
September 26, 2016
GROWMARK and Suncor have reached an agreement in which GROWMARK will purchase Suncor’s 50% interest in UPI, Inc. in Ontario, Read More
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Syngenta Seedcare Institute
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Opens New North America Seedcare Institute In …
September 23, 2016
Syngenta unveiled its new Seedcare Institute in Stanton, MN, during a recent grand opening celebration. More than 150 industry leaders, Read More
StewardshipMonsanto Invests $1.6 Million In System To Quantify Gre…
September 23, 2016
The USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) recently awarded the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its Soil Health Read More
Pipe rack
LegislationCourt Sides With Ag Retailers On PSM
September 23, 2016
The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when Read More
ManagementPacific Coast Fertilizer Announces Interest In Longview…
September 22, 2016
Pacific Coast Fertilizer LP (PCF) announced at the Cowlitz Economic Development Council board of directors meeting its interest in developing Read More
Young corn plants in soil
UncategorizedCool Planet Raises Additional $9 Million To Commerciali…
September 22, 2016
Cool Planet has announced the first close of a new financing round to commercialize the company’s Cool Terra Engineered Biocarbon Read More
Crop InputsJim Loar Promoted To President And CEO Of Cool Planet
September 22, 2016
In a move that reflects and reinforces the company’s commitment to the agricultural market, the Cool Planet board of directors Read More
BlendersNorth Dakota Coop Debuts Dry Fertilizer Plant
September 22, 2016
North Central Grain Cooperative has begun operations at a new dry fertilizer plant at its Rolla, ND, site. It is Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, Bayer Officials Defend Proposed $66 Billion M…
September 21, 2016
Top officials for Monsanto and Bayer defended their proposed $66 billion merger before skeptical senators on Tuesday, insisting that the Read More
ManagementUpcoming Shows & Recent Events
September 19, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about upcoming trade shows and events and review the Mid America CropLife Association Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Appoints New CEO
September 19, 2016
Verdesian Life Sciences, a plant health and nutrition company, today announced that its board of directors has named Kenneth M. Avery Read More
Corn
Crop InputsEPA Settles With Syngenta For Alleged Multi-Regional Pe…
September 19, 2016
The U.S. EPA has announced a multi-region settlement with Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC (Syngenta) in Greensboro, NC, for alleged violations of Read More