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

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
LegislationVilsack Christens WinField Crop Adventure, Talks Monsanto-Bayer, GMO-Labeling and TPP
June 17, 2016
The WinField Crop Adventure grand opening ceremonies at Fair Oaks Farms (near Winemac, IN) welcomed USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Read More
Trending Articles
Key Cooperative Marcus Construction Steel Building
Retail FacilitiesMarcus Construction Builds High-Speed Agronomy Center For Key Cooperative
July 7, 2016
Key Cooperative in Grinnell, IA, wanted a state-of-the-art Agronomy Center to better serve its customers. Marcus Construction delivered exactly that. Read More
Heritage Cooperative
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Designs State-Of-The-Art Facility For Heritage Cooperative
July 4, 2016
Heritage Cooperative in Marysville, OH, needed an efficient liquid, dry and grain facility to serve the many needs of their Read More
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To Explore IT Solutions
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Latest News
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer: Corn Belt P and K Levels Lagging
August 24, 2016
A new DuPont Pioneer study conducted across 12 Corn Belt states demonstrates that growers may be leaving profit potential in Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsCould a Monsanto-Bayer Union Be 2 Weeks from Fruition?
August 24, 2016
Via STLToday.com (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch): Merger talks between Monsanto Co. and Bayer AG are advancing after a series of Read More
EquipmentCase IH Debuts Nutri-Tiller 955 Strip-Till Applicator
August 24, 2016
With strip-till continuing to expand across new acres, Case IH designed the new Nutri-Tiller 955 strip-till applicator to help producers Read More
EquipmentCase Launches Aim Command FLEX, 25th Anniversary Patrio…
August 24, 2016
Case IH announces new AIM Command FLEX advanced spray technology for greater application accuracy, as well as special 25th Anniversary 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
PrecisionAg Video Conference
Precision AgVideo: PrecisionAg Vision Conference
August 22, 2016
A Strategic Conference Focused on the Future of Farm Digitization and Precision Agriculture Visit precisionagvision.com and register today! Read More
Young Corn Plants
Industry NewsOABA Welcomes Nicole Wallace As Communication & Adm…
August 22, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association has hired Nicole Wallace as its communication and administrative coordinator. Wallace will help provide comprehensive communication Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsChemChina, Syngenta Receive Clearance From CFIUS
August 22, 2016
China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina) and Syngenta have announced that the companies have received clearance on their proposed transaction from the Read More
ManagementAg Industry Shows and Rumors
August 18, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the upcoming trade show schedule, crop protection merger updates, and content for Read More
MAGIE 2015
EquipmentMAGIE Takes The Pulse Of The Ag Retail Industry
August 18, 2016
Every year, one of the major highlights of my career as an ag journalist is attending the Midwest AG Industries Read More
MAGIE 2015 Overview
EquipmentPride In Professionalism On Display At MAGIE
August 18, 2016
The Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) is proud to partner with CropLife IRON and continue the tradition of bringing Read More
SprayersJenner Ag To Debut 25th Anniversary Edition Case IH Pat…
August 18, 2016
Visitors at the 2016 Midwest Ag Industries Exhibition (MAGIE) in Bloomington, IL, will have a unique photo opportunity, as Jenner Read More
Crop InputsEU Glyphosate Controversy Heating Up Yet Again
August 17, 2016
The battle over glyphosate rages on in Europe, creating a lot of question marks over whether the herbicide will continue Read More
Industry NewsNew Partnership Provides Improved Representation At Ohi…
August 16, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) has retained Belinda Jones of Capitol Consulting Group, Inc. (CCG) for government relations work in Read More
Tissue testing
FertilizerMosaic: 6 Tips For Better Crop Nutrition In Corn
August 16, 2016
Late in the crop season is a good time to assess visual nutrient deficiencies and ensure early- and mid-season deficiencies Read More
WebinarsWebinar Schedule
August 14, 2016
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Dow DuPont
Crop InputsDowDuPont Update: EU Takes Closer Look at Merger
August 12, 2016
Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. face months of haggling with European Union antitrust regulators who opened an in-depth probe Read More
ManagementNews from InfoAg 2016 and Weed Wands
August 11, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review what happened at last week’s big Precision Ag event and a possible solution Read More