Cooperative Extension Service
The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Your source for pest management and pesticide news

December 2000
Volume 23, No. 12

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

It has been a big year for us, and we wish you and your family peace and prosperity

TRAINING OPPORTUNITY

Mark your calendar for the 2001 pesticide satellite workshop scheduled for February 15

IPM IN SCHOOLS

The new head lice brochures are available, one for schools and one for parents

FOOD QUALITY PROTECTION ACT/REREGISTRATION

The Non-Dietary Exposure Task Force (NDETF) has been established to develop information
The EPA has published guidance concerning mitigation of worker risks associated with organophosphate (OP) insecticides
The EPA finds that most malathion uses do not trigger health concerns

HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT

In the public mind, pesticides are often linked with cancer, but the facts do not support this supposition
If pesticides are not a major cancer risk, why do we constantly remind people to minimize pesticide exposure
Would you willingly ingest a pollutant for money
Some scientists have been investigating a link between farmer depression/suicide and exposure to organophosphate insecticides
The South Carolina Cooperative Extension Service referred a patient to the SC Agromedicine Program after the patient complained of a persistent mite infestation
There is another scare of mad-cow disease in Europe, and it may influence concerns about pesticides
A recent study linked rotenone exposure to Parkinson's disease in rats

PARTNER WITH HISPANICS

Hispanic workers are becoming a major component of the agricultural and landscaping workforce

NEW TOOLS

About 4,000 phorid flies have been released in Georgia as part of a new fire ant control program
Scientists with USDA report that a new strain of Beauvaria bassiana is more effective than commercial strains against a variety of lepidopteran pests
The mineral kaolin has been shown to be useful in some situations for horticultural production

FEDERAL NEWS

Some pesticides are exempt from Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requirements
The EPA has published additional guidance for pesticide labeling requirements

BIOTECHNOLOGY

The accidental introduction of StarLink corn into the human diet continues to stir controversy
Another type of genetically engineered corn (Roundup Ready) was detected in processed food in the United Kingdom and Denmark

Happy Holidays!

It has been a big year for us, and we wish you and your family peace and prosperity. The university awarded me tenure and promotion, so I guess they want me to stay. The USDA asked me to move back to Washington to serve as the National Program Leader for Environmental Toxicology. The offer was very tempting, but I decided to stay at UGA. I felt that many of our programs are just beginning to roll, and I have a lot of unfinished business here. Additionally, the support and cooperation of our clientele make my situation very satisfying. I hope we can continue to provide useful service. If you have ideas about additional programs we can provide, please let me know.

Training Opportunity

Mark your calendar for the 2001 pesticide satellite workshop scheduled for February 15. As usual, participants will receive five hours of recertification credit toward their commercial pesticide license in any nonstructural category. Almost every school, technical college, junior college, and library in Georgia is capable of receiving the satellite signal. If you would like to have a downlink site in your area, work with your local extension office to locate a suitable location and contact my office soon. Registration will begin in January.

IPM in Schools

The new head lice brochures are available, one for schools and one for parents. We are mailing color copies to every public school system, private schools, health departments and day care centers. The information is also posted on the Internet.
http://www.ces.uga.edu/pubcd/c850.htm or http://www.ces.uga.edu/pubcd/c851.htm

Additionally, the head lice publications are available in black-and-white via print-on-demand. County agents will be able to request an almost unlimited number of copies at no cost to the county office. Agents should discuss requests for large numbers with the District Head. Given the increasing problems with head lice, we anticipate great demand for the head lice publications.

Food Quality Protection Act/Reregistration

The Non-Dietary Exposure Task Force (NDETF) has been established to develop information that can be used to estimate children's pesticide exposure in indoor environments. The task force is specifically investigating pyrethroids, pyrethrum, and synergists. The NDETF will focus on the following areas.

  1. transferable residues from vinyl flooring and carpets
  2. fate of active ingredients exposed to indoor/outdoor lighting conditions
  3. deposition of active ingredients following use of indoor foggers

If your company is interested in participating, contact Paul Keane (312-664-4781, pkeane2100@aol.com) or Tom Osimitz (414-260-2669, tgosimit@scj.com)

The EPA has published guidance concerning mitigation of worker risks associated with organophosphate (OP) insecticides. As you probably know, the EPA is paying particular attention to the risks associated with OP insecticides. The Agency scrutiny comes from two routes, the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) and the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Risks associated with non-occupational risks are considered under FQPA; the act allows very little consideration of benefits. Worker and environmental risks are part of FIFRA; this act requires EPA to consider pesticide benefits when the risks trigger a regulatory decision. In the ongoing EPA review of OP insecticides, FQPA and FIFRA are in play simultaneously. The newly published guidance only addresses worker risk (FIFRA).

The Agency typically evaluates worker risk according to the margin of exposure (MOE). First, scientists expose laboratory animals to pesticides and determine the No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL). This value is compared with the estimated exposure of pesticide workers. The Agency considers an MOE of 100 or greater to be safe for workers; in other words, the workers are exposed to 1/100 of the NOAEL. An MOE of less than 100 exceeds the EPA level of concern for worker risk. The MOE applies only to acute risks; the EPA will also consider chronic risks (e.g., cancer) in these assessments.

Initially, the Agency will consider available technologies to reduce risks, such as closed mixing/loading systems, protective clothing, closed cabs, etc. Beyond these technologies, the EPA may apply label revisions that increase the reentry interval or implement other safeguards. The pesticide registrant may amend pesticide labels prior to EPA action, but registrants are strongly urged to discuss potential label amendments with EPA.

For more information, contact Kathleen Meier at 703-308-8017 or meier.kathleen@epa.gov (EPA PR Notice 2000-9)

The EPA finds that most malathion uses do not trigger health concerns. Malathion, an organophosphate insecticide, is registered for use on dozens of agricultural crops and for many residential uses. It is also used for mosquito control and medfly eradication.

There has been some concern about malathion as a carcinogen, but EPA considers current evidence unreliable. The Agency classifies malathion as 'suggestive of carcinogenicity but insufficient to assess human carcinogenic potential.'

Some risks have raised EPA concern: handler exposure during residential application and toddler exposure following application. Increased requirements for personal protective equipment and engineering controls are expected to mitigate applicator risks. Additionally, EPA is likely to push for containers that are less likely to break.

The Agency also has some concern about environmental risks for bees, birds, some mammals, and fish. It is expected that buffers, lower application rates, fewer applications, etc. will mitigate environmental risks. (Pestic. & Tox. Chem. News, 11-16-00)

It is imperative to handle pesticides responsibly, particularly with increased EPA scrutiny. A bird/fish kill or human poisoning could force EPA to reconsider their current position. After all, if we do not handle pesticides carefully, we limit the options available to EPA.

Health and the Environment

In the public mind, pesticides are often linked with cancer, but the facts do not support this supposition. According to the Georgia Cancer Data Report, tobacco accounts for 30 percent of cancer deaths. Another third are related to diet, nutrition, and lack of exercise. The highlights of the Georgia report appeared in the October issue of Georgia Epidemiology; pesticides are not mentioned. Many people are up in arms about pesticide and cancer, but their efforts may be misplaced. Only about 20 percent of Georgian adults consumed five or more fruits or vegetables per day; less than 1/3 have regular exercise. We should not waste resources on pesticides that would be better used elsewhere. To obtain a copy of the Georgia Cancer Data Report, visit http://www.ph.dhr.state.ga.us/

If pesticides are not a major cancer risk, why do we constantly remind people to minimize pesticide exposure? Why is 'IPM in Schools' a major program to reduce pesticide risks in schools? The answer is simple. Misuse of pesticides does create an unnecessary risk. We have the tools and knowledge to further reduce the risks from pesticide exposure. To minimize pesticide risks, we need only apply common-sense principles and current technology. If we can reduce risks, we are obligated to do so.

Would you willingly ingest a pollutant for money? According to the November 28, 2000 broadcast of 'Marketplace' (on National Public Radio), a group of researchers is paying $1,000 to people who will ingest perchlorate. Perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel, causes concern as water pollution. Companies with interest in perchlorate would like less stringent pollution standards. To revise current regulations, the companies must prove that perchlorate is less dangerous than regulators assume.

Some groups are denouncing the research as unethical and dangerous. After all, you can always find someone to do almost anything for money. Furthermore, this type of research is likely to lead to similar research with other toxicants.

The industry responds that perchlorate is also used a drug for some conditions, and the dose ingested by the research subjects is far less than the dose in the perchlorate drug. Additionally, the company accepts no volunteer who is not in good health.

Remember that a similar controversy occurred when EPA refused to accept human data to evaluate pesticide risks. It will be interesting to see where this research, and the controversy, leads.

Some scientists have been investigating a link between farmer depression/suicide and exposure to organophosphate insecticides, but the latest published reports found no significant link. A 1990s study in England concluded that access to firearms, rope, and agricultural chemicals predisposed farmers to suicide. However, two larger, subsequent North American studies found pesticide exposure to be statistically insignificant in suicide risk. Health risks related to organophosphate exposure is a popular topic these days, so additional research is likely. (Agromedicine Program Update, 11-15-00)

These studies (pro or con) do not change our strong advice. MINIMIZE YOUR EXPOSURE TO PESTICIDES!

The South Carolina Cooperative Extension Service referred a patient to the SC Agromedicine Program after the patient complained of a persistent mite infestation. The man reported severe itching on the scalp and skin that continued for several months. The patient moved several times but had no relief. Additionally, repeated pesticide applications did nothing to relieve his symptoms. Physicians and university entomologists were unable to find any mites or other parasites, and other family members reported no symptoms.

Agromedicine physicians began to suspect delusory parasitosis. Sometimes, people develop a strong false belief that they are infested with parasites and may go to extreme measures (e.g., repeated pesticide use, numerous showers, etc.) to relieve their suffering. Effective treatments are available but not through entomological control methods.

The program doctors made an appointment for the patient to see a dermatologist with experience in delusory parasitosis. In the meantime, the patient investigated the condition via the Internet and discovered that delusory parasitosis is treated with the psychotropic medicine, pimozide. The patient canceled the appointment and announced that he had no psychosis. (Agromedicine Program Update, 11-15-00)

Unfortunately, this patient seems to have been influenced by general public stigma of being diagnosed as psychotic. Pimozide has been effective in many cases, and treatment is likely to have provided relief.

There is another scare of mad-cow disease in Europe, and it may influence concerns about pesticides. Mad cow disease causes the brains of animals to waste away, and scientists suspect that the disease is linked to a similar human malady, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The disease can be transmitted among animals when animal parts are used in feed for other animals. Possibly, the disease is transmitted to humans via infected meat.
(Atlanta-Journal Constitution, 11-15-00) Speculation about influence on pesticide concerns is my opinion, not AJC)

Most people depend on the government to protect them against food risks, including pesticides. In the mad-cow situation, there is some concern that governments did not act quickly enough to protect the citizens. As a result, Europeans have lost some confidence in the government's ability to protect them from food-borne risks. Many people are already concerned about dietary pesticide residues and the introduction of genetically engineered foods into the human diet. In the minds of many, the mad-cow scenario is additional evidence that governments and scientists are not providing adequate protection. In the United States, the accidental introduction of unapproved, genetically engineered corn into human foods further exacerbates the situation. Public confidence is difficult to obtain and very easily lost. We must be very conscientious in our application of pesticides and genetic engineering or face greater erosion of public trust.

A recent study linked rotenone exposure to Parkinson's disease in rats, but the American Council on Science and Health cautions against extrapolating the results to humans. Although the doses were called 'modest' by rodent testing standards, they were still well below conceivable human exposure. Rotenone was labeled for a wide range of uses, but all registrations for food uses were canceled some time ago. The only registered uses that remain are for killing unwanted fish. Some dealers may still be legally selling stocks of rotenone. (Pestic. & Tox. Chem. News, 11-23-00)

Rotenone was an acceptable pesticide for organic production because it is a natural, plant-derived substance. Natural does not always equal 'safe'; synthetic does not always equal 'unsafe.' Nature and man produce a wide variety of chemicals with a wide variety of risks.

Partner with Hispanics

Hispanic workers are becoming a major component of the agricultural and landscaping workforce; we need to be sure that Hispanic pesticide applicators are receiving the information they need to use pesticides safely. We are addressing this situation in several ways: a pilot pesticide certification testing, translation of pesticide Extension bulletins, and a pilot homeowner program. However, we are only a supporting player in the overall program. It is up to employers and other local providers to ensure that everyone receives the information they need. If you need additional educational materials, be sure to contact our office.

Additional training for Hispanic workers may require greater investment, but employers can expect substantial returns. Better trained workers are less likely to make mistakes; your business liability is reduced. Training also enables workers to perform at a higher level. Finally, you will retain better workers if training helps them advance within your organization.

New Tools

About 4,000 phorid flies have been released in Georgia as part of a new fire ant control program. The tiny parasitoid flies were imported from Brazil; they lay an egg inside a fire ant. When the egg hatches, the larva moves into the ant's head. The head falls off, and the fly completes development in the head capsule. The flies cost about $3 each, which is not so expensive when you consider that fire ants cause $100 million in damage each year in Georgia alone. University of Georgia scientists hope that the flies will become established and provide an important natural control for fire ants. No one expects fire ants to be eliminated, but the parasitoids should help other ants compete against fire ants. The fly releases have been somewhat successful in some other southeastern states, but the project has failed thus far in Oklahoma and Tennessee. (Atlanta-Journal Constitution, 10-27-00)

Scientists with USDA report that a new strain of Beauvaria bassiana, BB-1200, is more effective than commercial strains against a variety of lepidopteran pests. The USDA observed greater activity against all lepidopterans tested, including fall armyworm, beet armyworm, black cutworm, corn borer, and cabbage looper. B. bassiana (GHA) has been available commercially since 1995, but applications have been limited to the greenhouse. For more information, contact Stephen Wraight at spw4@cornell.edu (Agricultural Research, 11-00)

The mineral kaolin has been shown to be useful in some situations for horticultural production. The USDA reports that kaolin can help control some insect pests, prevent sunburn, reduce heat stress, and increase photosynthesis. There are also promising indications that kaolin can help control fungal diseases, reduce frost damage, and serve as a delivery system for other pesticides.

Kaolin is not a panacea. It is not effective against all pests, and timing is critical. Additionally, it seems to interfere with some beneficial parasitoid wasps. Kaolin also leaves a substantial visible residue.

For more information, contact Michael Glenn at mglenn@afrs.ars.usda.gov (Agricultural Research, 11-00)

Federal News

Some pesticides are exempt from Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requirements. These exemptions allow companies to develop and sell minimal risk pesticides with little or no investment in risk data and registration fees. Some inert ingredients are also exempt from FIFRA requirements.

To qualify for exemption, the active ingredient must be listed in 40 CFR 152.25(g)(1). Typical exempt ingredients include things like cedar oil, soybean oil, white pepper, etc. Exempt inerts include milk, cocoa, mica, etc. You can also find the list of exempt materials at the EPA web site, www.epa.gov/pesticides

An exemption does not mean the pesticide is completely unregulated. Any pesticide applied to a food must have an established tolerance as required under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Additionally, state regulations may not exempt minimal risk pesticides from regulatory requirements. Check with regulatory agencies in states where you plan to sell or use the pesticide.

For more information, contact Brian Steinwand at EPA, (703-305-7973 or steinwand.brian@epa.gov) (EPA PR Notice 2000-6)

The EPA has published additional guidance for pesticide labeling requirements. Pesticide labels carry mandatory statements and advisory information. Mandatory statements include 'wear chemical resistant gloves' and 'do not apply within 100 feet of wells.' Advisory statements are not legal requirements, such as 'latex gloves are recommended.'

Understandably, certain words can confuse pesticide users about 'mandatory' and 'advisory statements.' For example, the statement 'user should wear gloves' could be interpreted as mandatory or advisory. What difference does it make? Suppose a pesticide injures an applicator because he/she did not wear gloves. The applicator may sue the pesticide company over the ambiguous statement. The new guidance is intended to help pesticide registrants avoid ambiguous language in pesticide labeling.

If your company is a pesticide registrant, you need to pay attention to the new guidance. For more information, visit the EPA web site (www.epa.gov/pesticides) or call the labeling team at 703-308-9068. (EPA PR Notice 2000-5)

Biotechnology

The accidental introduction of StarLink corn into the human diet continues to stir controversy. StarLink corn is genetically engineered with a bacillus gene to control corn borer; the EPA approved the corn for animal feed, but not for human consumption. The corn was discovered in taco shells. The shells were recalled, but concern has not abated.

The bacillus gene codes for a toxin that kills certain lepidopteran larvae. The protein is not of concern for humans, but EPA is worried that the protein could trigger human allergic reactions. The registrant, Aventis, has provided data that show there is no concern about human allergenicity, but other groups cited a study that shows sensitization in people exposed to the protein in a microbial spray. The EPA does not entirely agree with Aventis, but the Agency did not think the microbial spray information was appropriate. Consequently, the EPA asked a Scientific Advisory Panel to comment on the information submitted by Aventis.

You can find more information at www.epa.gov/scipoly/sap (Pesticide & Environmental News, 11-16-00)

Another type of genetically engineered corn (Roundup Ready) was detected in processed food in the United Kingdom and Denmark, according to tests commissioned by Friends of the Earth. Roundup Ready crops are engineered to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate. Roundup Ready is not approved for human consumption in Denmark or the United Kingdom. The Food Standards Agency of the United Kingdom reported that the contamination does not pose a human risk; a Danish company has voluntarily removed contaminated products from the market. Both countries are working to confirm the presence of the Roundup Ready corn and to determine how the corn was introduced. (Pesticide & Environmental News, 11-16-00)

Public action groups are seizing on the opportunity to bash biotech companies, and their position is not without merit. Even if the genetically engineered corn does not pose a human risk, the corn is not approved for human consumption in these European countries. If we cannot ensure segregation of unapproved food components, European companies may refuse to buy products from countries that grow genetically engineered crops.

Happy Holidays
   

 

The appearance of any trade name in this newsletter is not intended to endorse that product nor convey negative implications of unmentioned products.

Dear Readers:

The Georgia Pest Management Newsletter is a monthly journal for extension agents, extension specialists, and others interested in pest management news. It provides information on legislation, regulations, and other issues affecting pest management in Georgia.

Do not regard the information in this newsletter as pest management recommendations. Consult the Georgia Pest Control Handbook, other extension publications, or appropriate specialists for this information.

Your input in this newsletter is encouraged.

If you wish to be added to the mailing list, just call us at 706-542-1765

Or write us:

Department of Entomology
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
E-mail: pguillebeau@bugs.ent.uga.edu

Or visit us on the Web. You will find all the back issues there and other useful information.

http://www.ces.uga.edu/ces/wnews.html

Sincerely:

Paul Guillebeau, Assistant Professor & Extension Entomologist