EPA Releases Draft Biological Evaluation for Glyphosate

This original announcement was published by the EPA on November 26, 2020. Click here for more information.

 

EPA is taking the next step in its regulatory review of glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the United States, which is used to control a variety of grasses and broadleaf weeds. Glyphosate is used on about 298 million acres of agricultural crop land every year and is effective and affordable.

Building on EPA’s January 2020 action finalizing new mitigation measures for glyphosate, today, EPA is releasing its draft biological evaluation (BE) for glyphosate for public review and comment. Biological evaluations are the beginning of EPA’s Endangered Species Act consultation review process for pesticides where the agency determines whether the pesticide “may affect” one or more individuals of a listed species and their designated critical habitats.

EPA followed its March 2020 Revised Method for National Level Listed Species Biological Evaluations of Conventional Pesticides to conduct this biological evaluation. As such, EPA used the best-available science, including advanced exposure modeling techniques to estimate exposures to plants in various environments, such as wetlands.

EPA’s draft biological evaluation for glyphosate includes an effects determination for listed species and designated critical habitats and finds that glyphosate is likely to adversely affect a significant percent of endangered species and critical habitats. In order to make its “likely to adversely affect” determination, EPA evaluates whether an individual of a listed species is “reasonably expected” to be exposed to the pesticide at a sufficient level that it will have an effect, and whether that effect will be adverse. The agency will accept public comments on its draft evaluation for 60 days following its release and then will finalize the evaluation.

If EPA determines glyphosate may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the agency will consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services) as appropriate. The Services use the information in EPA’s final biological evaluation to develop their biological opinion to determine if the pesticide jeopardizes the continued existence of the species and whether there is adverse modification to its critical habitat. If jeopardy or adverse modification is determined, the Services, with input from EPA, will propose protection measures. Protection measures could include seeking to change the terms of the pesticide registration to establish either generic or geographically specific pesticide use limitations if the agency determines that limitations are necessary to ensure that legal use of a pesticide will not harm listed species or their critical habitat.

To read the biological evaluation, please visit our webpage. EPA is accepting public comments upon publication via docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2020-0585 at www.regulations.gov.

 

 

Paraquat Training Update 11/27/2020

Paraquat Training Update

NPSEC is currently revising the label-mandated paraquat training to include the following changes:

  1. Closed-system Requirement – As of December 31st of this year, paraquat registrants will no longer be able to distribute or sell paraquat products in container less than 120 gallons without closed systems for removing product from the original container, any subsequent transfer of the product, and complete removal and rinsing of the product container. However, dealers and distributors will be permitted to continue to sell paraquat products that do not meet the closed-system requirement until their stocks run out.
  2. Jar Testing – Tank-mix compatibility testing, aka jar testing, is prohibited. Users are advised to check the product website for a list of some products that have been evaluated for compatibility.

Applicators who have already completed training are still compliant for three years from the time they completed the original training – they do not have to take the updated training until their three-year renewal anniversary.

Remember to always follow the label directions of the product you are using; the label is the law.

EPA Seeking Comments on Updated Plant Biostimulants Guidance

This original announcement was published by the EPA on November 25, 2020. Click here for more. 

In recognition of the growing class of products generally known as plant biostimulants, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting comments on an updated Draft Guidance for Plant Regulators and Claims, Including Plant Biostimulants.

“Plant biostimulants are increasingly being used by farmers to increase agriculture productivity,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Alexandra Dapolito Dunn. “When finalized, our Plant Biostimulants Guidance will provide sought-after certainty and transparency for this growing area of the economy.”

Plant biostimulants are a relatively new but growing category of products containing naturally occurring substances and microbes. Their increasing popularity arises from their ability to enhance agricultural productivity through stimulation of natural plant processes using substances and microbes already present in the environment. Plant biostimulants can also reduce the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers, making it an attractive option for sustainable agriculture and integrated pest management programs. Benefits include:

  • Increased plant growth, vigor, yield and production.
  • Improved soil health.
  • Optimized nutrient use.
  • Increased water efficiency.

While many plant biostimulants are not regulated as pesticides, certain mixtures and plant regulators can be pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

Today’s released updated draft guidance incorporates diverse and helpful changes made in response to stakeholder feedback received during the draft guidance’s initial comment period in 2019. EPA now will seek input on those changes, including the wording of certain plant and non-plant regulator claim examples.

The public comment period will be open for 30 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2018-0258 at www.regulations.gov. After carefully considering the comments received, EPA anticipates finalizing this guidance in January 2021.

EPA Awards $2.5 Million to the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs for Farmworker Pesticide Training

This original announcement was published by the EPA on November 19, 2020. Click here for more information!

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) to receive up to $500,000 annually to conduct pesticide safety training across the country over the next five years. With EPA funding, AFOP will administer this grant to provide occupational health and safety trainings to migrant and seasonal farmworkers in more than 25 states through a network of over 200 trainers.

“EPA is pleased to continue working with the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs as we work toward our common goal of protecting our farmworkers and their families,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Alexandra Dapolito Dunn. “This exciting partnership complements our Agricultural Worker Protection Standard perfectly and will develop national pesticide safety training, education, and outreach for farmworkers and their families in rural agricultural areas.”

“AFOP is delighted to continue working with EPA to provide pesticide safety instruction to the nation’s farmworkers. Together with EPA, we touch real lives by empowering agricultural workers with the knowledge they need to better protect themselves, their homes, and their families from pesticide exposure,” said AFOP Executive Director Daniel Sheehan. “Agriculture is ranked consistently as one of, if not the, most dangerous of occupations. Through EPA’s support, AFOP is able to help make that job a whole lot safer.”

As the recipient of the cooperative agreement, AFOP will continue to enhance safe working conditions for agricultural workers at local, state and national levels, with targeted outreach to low-income, low-literacy, and non-English speaking farmworkers.

Through its previous 2015-2020 cooperative agreement with EPA, AFOP trained 184,000 farmworkers and 30,000 children on pesticide safety. This work was made possible through EPA’s National Farmworker Training grant program which focuses on training educators to teach agricultural workers and their families how to reduce the risks from pesticide exposure. For more information, visit EPA’s Pesticide Worker Safety Cooperative Agreements webpage.

EPA Announces Implementation of Electronic Gold Seal Letter for Exporting Pesticides

This original announcement was published by EPA on November 17, 2020. Click here for more information.

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now providing pesticide registrants with electronic Certificates of Registration, commonly known as gold seal letters. This improved process allows for the electronic gold seal letters to be emailed to registrants rather than physically mailed, providing a key flexibility during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

These letters serve as proof for pesticide exporters that the product is registered with EPA and meets all necessary registration requirements. Registrants can request gold seal certificate letters from the Agency for use internationally. For information on how to request a gold seal certificate letter, including information on how registrants should present the letters to the U.S. Department of State when authentication is needed for business purposes, please visit https://www.epa.gov/pria-fees/m006-pria-fee-category.

Approved labels and gold seal letters for registered pesticide products can be found on the Pesticide Product and Label System.

Now Available for Public Comment: ORD Staff Handbook for Developing IRIS Assessments

This original announcement was published by EPA’s Health and Environment Risk Assessment team on November 10, 2020. Click here for more information. 

 

Notice: EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program released the Office of Research and Development (ORD) Staff Handbook for Developing IRIS Assessments, or IRIS Handbook, for a 90-day public comment period. The IRIS Handbook provides operating procedures for developing IRIS assessments including problem formulation approaches and methods for conducting systematic review, dose response analysis, and developing toxicity values.

EPA is submitting a notice for publication in the Federal Register (FR). Please refer to the official notice in a forthcoming FR publication, which will appear on the Federal Register website (https://www.federalregister.gov/) and on Regulations.gov (https://www.regulations.gov) in Docket No. EPA-HQ-ORD-2018-0654. Once published in the Federal Register, an additional IRIS listserv notice will be distributed to notify the public.

For more information on this document, please visit the EPA IRIS website.

EPA Releases Draft Biological Evaluations for Atrazine, Simazine and Propazine

This original announcement was published by the EPA on Friday, November 6, 2020. Click here for more information.

 

EPA is taking the next step in its regulatory review of atrazine, simazine and propazine, three widely-used herbicides used to control a variety of grasses and broadleaf weeds. Atrazine is used on about 75 million acres of agricultural crop land every year and is especially effective, affordable, and well-studied.

In September 2020, EPA announced its interim registration review decisions for atrazine, simazine and propazine (collectively known as the triazines), finalizing measures to protect human health, mitigate potential ecological risks while providing America’s farmers with valuable tools they have come to rely upon.

Today, EPA is releasing its draft biological evaluations (BEs) for triazines for public review and comment. Biological evaluations are the beginning of EPA’s Endangered Species Act consultation review process for pesticides where the agency determines if an endangered or threatened species or critical habitat could be affected by the use of a certain pesticide.

EPA will accept public comments on the draft evaluations until Jan. 5, 2021. After carefully considering the public comments received and any additional data received, the agency will finalize the BEs. If EPA determines a pesticide may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the agency will consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services) as appropriate. The Services will then issue a biological opinion to determine if the population of a species would be adversely impacted and, if so, propose ways to reduce risks. It is the goal of EPA to ensure that pesticides can continue to be used safely with minimal impacts to threatened and endangered species.

This is the second group of pesticides, and the first herbicides, where the agency used its March 2020 Revised Method for National Level Listed Species Biological Evaluations of Conventional Pesticides to assess potential impacts that these herbicides may have on threatened and endangered species and their critical habitats. As such, EPA used advanced exposure modeling techniques to estimate exposures to plants in various environments such as wetlands.

The biological evaluations make effects determinations for 1,795 listed species and 792 designated critical habitats when these pesticides are used according to product labels. This includes no effect (NE), not likely to adversely affect (NLAA), and likely to adversely affect (LAA) determinations. A summary of LAA determinations for atrazine, simazine, and propazine is below:

  • Atrazine is likely to adversely affect 54 percent of all species and 40 percent of critical habitats ;
  • Propazine is likely to adversely affect 4 percent of all species and 2 percent of critical habitats; and,
  • Simazine is likely to adversely affect approximately 53 percent of species and 40 percent of critical habitats.

To read the biological evaluations, please visit our webpage. EPA is accepting public comments via docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2020-0514 at www.regulations.gov.

EPA Proposes Updates to List of Pests of Significant Health Importance

This original announcement was published by the EPA on November 4, 2020. Click here for more information.

 

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released an updated list of pests of significant health importance for public review and comment.

Federal law requires EPA, in coordination with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to identify pests of significant public health importance and in coordination with the Public Health Service, to develop and implement programs to improve and facilitate the safe and necessary use of chemical, biological, and other methods to combat and control such pests of public health importance. The list serves as a useful tool for private and public organizations including local or state governments, departments of public health, pesticide registrants, and non-governmental organizations when making decisions and plans about future public health actions.

Since this list’s original publication in 2002, new vector-borne diseases have been identified and pests that had been previously thought of as benign or nuisance pests have been found to adversely impact public health. EPA, CDC and USDA collaborated to update the list to incorporate significant changes regarding vector-borne diseases and related research, and eliminate gaps or ambiguities in the current pests list.

The draft Pesticide Registration Notice more precisely describes both the pests and expected public health impacts and adds several new pests (ex. brown dog tick) and public health impacts (ex. Zika fever and coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2). Other pests have been renamed or grouped with similar species or removed altogether (ex. hobo spider).

The list does not affect the regulatory status of any registration or application for registration of any pesticide product.

EPA will take public comment on the draft Pesticide Registration Notice during a 60-day public comment period ending on January 3, 2021 via www.regulations.gov (Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OPP-2020-0260).