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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pesticide Update

From the Ohio Farm Bureau, Adam Sharp

On November 4, U.S. EPA published a request for public comments on Pesticide Drift Labeling. The purpose of the draft notice is to provide guidance on labeling statements concerning pesticide drift and to inform the public of EPA’s pesticide drift policies. EPA also published a notice requesting public comment on a petition related to children's exposure to pesticide drift and volatilization. The petition was submitted to the EPA by EarthJustice and Farmworker Justice. Completely preventing drift from a crop protection product is technically impossible. Any attempt by EPA to increase mitigation measures as a way of attaining the unachievable goal of “zero drift” would severely impact farmers who are already prohibited from spraying in areas near occupied structures, sensitive ecosystems and endangered species habitat. OFBF filed the following comments with the U.S. EPA.

Comments Submitted by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation:

Ohio farmers believe that protection of human health for adults and children and of the environment is best accomplished through a Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) approved and enforced label for the pesticide products, which include Directions for Use that are based upon a risk assessment and that incorporate mitigation and application techniques designed to minimize drift.
Vague language such as "could cause" or "may cause" adverse effects does not belong on a pesticide label because it is NOT in accordance with FIFRA risk-based standard of 'no unreasonable adverse effects' and it forces state regulators into the role of risk assessor to determine what 'may or could' cause an effect, which they are not trained to do and is the role of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
We are concerned that EPA's guidance on how to enforce the proposed drift label language sets an unachievable zero drift standard and sets the stage for frivolous tort lawsuits and enforcement actions against farmers.

We urge the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs to do the following: (1) NOT impose unnecessary buffers that would reduce cropland available for American agriculture; (2) Develop a bystander exposure scenario for the risk assessment in the pesticide registration process; (3) Develop risk-based tolerances for non-target property; (4) Maintain the FIFRA risk-based standard of "no unreasonable adverse effects"; (5) Acknowledge that some small level of pesticide drift is unavoidable (in some cases) and does not pose an "unreasonable adverse effect"; (6) Acknowledge that the mere detection of a pesticide off-target does not pose an unreasonable adverse effect and is not a violation of FIFRA that requires an enforcement action; (7) Remove the new hazard-based standard of "harm" from the Drift Pesticide Registration Notice; (8) Remove the vague, unenforceable, and unmanageable concepts of "could cause" or "may cause" adverse effects or "harm" from the Drift PRN.

If you have any questions, please contact Adam Sharp, Ohio farm Bureau Federation at

This is an issue that goes beyond agricultural pesticide applications. We can be sure that anyone making an exterior pesticide application will be impacted by this issue.   This originally appeared in the May Issue of the Ohio Pest Management's quarterly newsletter, The StandardRK

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