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

Your source for pest management and pesticide news

February 2004/Volume 27, No. 2

Do you ever need expert advice to help you control insects, weeds, and other pests on the farm or around the house?

HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT

For decades, academics have preached that integrated pest management (IPM) is the true path to harmony between pest management and the environment
A federal court has ordered "Salmon Hazard" signs to be placed in stores that sell seven pesticides found to contaminate urban streams in the northwest United States
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively, the Services) propose changes to the Endangered Species Act consultation process for pesticides

FEDERAL NEWS

The EPA risk assessment for thiram is available
Farmworker groups have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that EPA downplayed human health risks when the Agency allowed continued use of the organophosphate insecticides, azinphos-methyl and phosmet

BIOTECHNOLOGY

Monsanto plans to stop selling soybean seed in Argentina because of seed piracy
Mandatory labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods provides food processors and retailers a choice

NEWS YOU CAN USE

The Georgia Department of Agriculture told us about an online service that offers recertification credits approved for Georgia applicators
Here is an interesting adaptation of a pesticide sprayer that we hope you will never need

CANCELLED

As of January 28, dimethoate is officially canceled on grapes, apples, head lettuce, spinach, chard, broccoli raab, fennel, tomatillo, lespedeza, and trefoil

DON'T DO IT

According to WJXT News in Jacksonville, Fla., a former employee is suing a lawn care company after the company fired him for allegedly blowing the whistle on billing for unwanted services


Do you ever need expert advice to help you control insects, weeds, and other pests on the farm or around the house? The 2004 Georgia Pest Management Handbooks are available from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Written by more than 50 UGA scientists, the Handbooks are packed with information about controlling every insect, weed, disease, and vertebrate pest from alligators to yellow jackets. The Homeowner edition (250 pages) is available for $15; the Commercial edition (650 pages) is $20. Order yours today from the UGA Ag Business Office at 706-542-8999.

Health and the Environment

For decades, academics have preached that integrated pest management (IPM) is the true path to harmony between pest management and the environment. The difficulty has always been in explaining IPM briefly in terms that do not immediately place the average voter into a moderate comatose state. Even professionals like myself are tired of hearing a long-winded definition of IPM. As we struggled with a more appealing explanation, someone equated IPM with reduced pesticide use.

This concept has caught on strongly. Many "IPM" grant programs ask specifically how your idea would reduce the use of pesticides. Unfortunately, an IPM program will not guarantee less use of pesticides. For those of you careful with your ignorance, read no further. Once your ignorance is lost, you can never regain all of it. Pesticides are often a key component of an IPM program. Some pesticides carry environmental or human risks; many nonpesticide alternatives also threaten human health or the environment. We need to consider which alternative is the best for the given situation.

Compare two alternatives for that most despised southern pest, fire ants. One non-pesticide alternative for fire ant management is boiling water. One or two gallons of boiling water applied to the mound at the right time of day will often eliminate the mound. Two gallons of boiling water weigh about 16 pounds, and boiling water can cause serious human injury. It will also kill nearly any nontarget organism in its path.

One common pesticide alternative for fire ant management is a bait formulated with a pesticide. The entire package of a commonly used bait product weighs less than one pound; the recommended application is a few teaspoons. The EPA and most other experts consider the human risks associated with fire ant baits to be quite low. Nontarget ants or other arthropods may be killed by fire ant bait if they consume it.

Make this example more personal. Suppose you need to control fire ants and suppose you have a small child in the clinging phase (parents will be familiar with this phase). Or place your aging grandparent in this example. Which alternative do you think carries greater risks? Personally, I would rather my children play with fire ant bait than to spill 2 gallons of boiling water on them. If I recommended that an elderly person carry 16 pounds of boiling water across uneven terrain, I would not sleep easily at night.

Society will benefit from the greater use of pesticides in the future IF the right pesticide tools are available and IF they are used with discretion. Pesticides are not that different from medicines. Research teams work endlessly to find new drugs to cure what ails us. Hardly anyone protests the introduction of additional medicines to cure human ills, but we should pay great attention to the side effects. We need pesticides that reduce the risks while offering similar benefits. To summarily condemn the use of all pesticides is similar to the view of some groups that shun doctors and modern medicine.

A federal court has ordered "Salmon Hazard" signs to be placed in stores that sell seven pesticides found to contaminate urban streams in the northwest United States.  Urban stores that sell 2,4-D, carbaryl, diazinon, diuron, malathion, triclopyr BEE, or trifluralin will be posted with signs reading "SALMON HAZARD. This product contains pesticides that may harm salmon or steelhead. Use of this product in urban areas can pollute salmon streams." The court also ordered the establishment of no-spray zones near streams for 38 pesticides commonly used in Washington, Oregon, and California. The buffers will remain until EPA can show the court that they are ensuring the safety of the salmon.

In 2002, the same court found that EPA was in violation of the Endangered Species Act for failing to protect salmon from pesticides. In that ruling, the court ordered U.S. EPA to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Services over a two and a half year timeline to establish permanent restrictions to protect salmon from 54 pesticides. The ruling provides interim measures to protect salmon from 38 pesticides during the time U.S. EPA takes to comply with the law. The court order states, "with reasonable scientific certainty, that the requested buffer zones, 20 yards for ground applications, 100 yards for aerial applications, will, unlike the status quo, substantially contribute to the prevention of jeopardy" to salmon. The judge's decision also finds that the evidence "demonstrate[s] that pesticide-application buffer zones are a common, simple, and effective strategy to avoid jeopardy to threatened and endangered salmonids." The buffer zones will become effective February 5, 2004 and will apply to salmon streams that support threatened and endangered salmon throughout Washington, Oregon, and California. (PANUPS, 2-2-04)

This ruling sets a precedent that may have far reaching implications. Many pesticides carry an implicit warning of toxicity to aquatic organisms, but few pesticide labels identify a specific buffer zone. In most cases, labels caution the user not to apply the pesticide to water or allow the drift to contaminate the water. Imprecise label language is nearly impossible to enforce.

The court's decision will probably spawn many other cases regarding pesticides and endangered species. Many pesticides will undoubtedly harm endangered species, especially invertebrates. Pesticide registrants, EPA, and pesticide users need to be proactive to ensure that pesticides are not causing unreasonable harm to endangered species. Otherwise, we may find ourselves in a situation where the courts dictate how we may use pesticides.

In related news, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively, the Services) propose changes to the Endangered Species Act consultation process for pesticides.  The EPA has regularly consulted with these other agencies on a variety of pesticide regulatory actions. Under the current system, the EPA analyzes pesticide registration data to evaluate risks to nontarget species. The other agencies often duplicate these analyses as part of the consultation process.

Here are the proposed changes.

  1. Permit EPA determinations that a pesticide is "not likely to adversely affect" a species, without further consultation with the Services, provided EPA and the Services are working in accordance with an agreed-upon Alternative Consultation Agreement (an interagency agreement for implementing the counterpart regulations).
  2. Provide for the Services' periodic oversight of EPA's "not likely to adversely affect" determinations.
  3. Provide for advance coordination between EPA and the Services where EPA may request Service participation in the development of an effects determination.
  4. Provide for strict timelines for completion of formal consultation when necessary and provide for "partial" consultation that will start the process for evaluating the impact of pesticides on listed species.

As required by law, the Services would make the final determination whether threatened or endangered species are jeopardized by the action. A public comment period is open until March 30, 2004. During the public comment period, EPA will hold a public workshop focused on risk assessments and make determinations about whether a pesticide may have an effect on a listed species. The proposal and supporting documents are posted at http://www.epa.gov/espp/. (EPA Pesticide Program Updates, 1-30-04)

Federal News

The EPA risk assessment for thiram is available at http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-PEST/2004/January/Day-26/p1550.htm The documents include information about the risk assessments developed for human health and the environment. The release of the assessment begins a 60-day comment period ending March 26, 2004. If you care about thiram, you may be able to help the Agency refine their assessment of the risks. For more information, contact Craig Doty, Special Review and Reregistration Division (7508C), (703) 308-0122 or doty.craig@epa.gov.

Farmworker groups have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that EPA downplayed human health risks when the Agency allowed continued use of the organophosphate insecticides, azinphos-methyl and phosmet. Both pesticides are widely used in tree fruits. (PANUPS, 1-26-04)

This case could be a serious blow to the remaining organophosphate registrations. The plaintiffs would probably present their case with these points. The organophosphate insecticides were derived from highly toxic nerve gases. Overexposure to organophosphates can be fatal; azinphos-methyl is among the most toxic of the organophosphate insecticides. The EPA acknowledges that pesticide poisonings are underreported. From this point of view, the case sounds pretty strong.

However, the situation is not as simple as it may appear. Nearly everyone uses dangerous chemicals routinely unless your vehicle does not require gasoline. We recognize that gasoline has serious risks, and I hope we are working to find better alternatives. For now, however, we need gasoline. For now, the fruit industry needs these organophosphate alternatives.

The primary risks from pesticide poisoning occur in several ways. When an applicator is handling a pesticide concentrate, he or she should pay careful attention to the required personal protective equipment (PPE). If the employer is not providing and insisting on the proper use of PPE, that employer should be subject to serious criminal and civil penalties. The second risk factor is associated with workers that enter the treated area before the reentry interval (specified on the label) expires. Again, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that workers do not enter fields too early.

Workers also create important pesticide risks. Workers carry pesticides and pesticide jugs home. They ignore warnings about hand washing and PPE. Many workers are young men, and I know from personal experience that young men consider themselves to be virtually indestructible. It is the responsibility of employers and worker advocacy groups to educate workers about pesticide risks and how to avoid them.

Until better pesticide alternatives are introduced, we need to work together to minimize the risks of the tools on which the industry depends. If we make U.S. agriculture unprofitable, the industry will move to other countries. Our dependence on foreign oil has shown us the risks associated with that option.

Biotechnology

Monsanto plans to stop selling soybean seed in Argentina because of seed piracy. Argentina is the third largest producer of soybeans, but the company does not feel that they can recoup their investments. The black market for soybean seed is estimated to include more that half of soybean seed sales. If the government will not work to end illegal sales, Monsanto said it would not sell new or improved varieties or conduct research to develop new lines for Argentine growing conditions.  (Crop Biotech Update, 1-23-04)

Mandatory labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods provides food processors and retailers a choice, however it does not facilitate consumer choice. This type of labeling is seen as a market barrier due to the rational decisions made by food processors. As a result, GM food products have disappeared from the retail shelves and have, so far, failed to provide consumers a choice. Colin A. Carter and Guillaume P. Gruere of the University of California-Davis share this insight in their article entitled "Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods: Does it Really Provide Consumer Choice?"

Carter and Gruere added that voluntary labeling, on the other hand, provides consumers a choice - as long as the willingness to pay for non-GM products exceeds the corresponding price premium. The authors further stated that some economists perceive voluntary labeling to be more efficient since it allows consumers to choose the quality of the products. It also allows them to choose between buying only non-GM food, and buying both conventional and GM food.

Read the full article at http://www.agbioforum.org/v6n12/v6n12a13-carter.htm.

News You Can Use

The Georgia Department of Agriculture told us about an online service that offers recertification credits approved for Georgia applicators. You can learn more by visiting their web site at http://www.pestnetwork.com/ The courses cost $15 per hour of credit.

Here is an interesting adaptation of a pesticide sprayer that we hope you will never need. You may be familiar with the electrostatic sprayer developed some years ago by Dr. Ed Law of the University of Georgia. The sprayers deliver electrically charged droplets that provide better coverage of plants with a smaller amount of pesticide. Dr. Law and others are now adapting that technology to decontaminate people that have come in contact with biological weapons or other agents on the skin. The same electrostatic technology can be used to quickly deliver an even coating of a decontaminant.

Cancelled

As of January 28, dimethoate is officially canceled on grapes, apples, head lettuce, spinach, chard, broccoli raab, fennel, tomatillo, lespedeza, and trefoil. Since these voluntary cancellations include all registrations for the technical material, there will be no dimethoate products registered for these uses. The registrants are permitted to sell and distribute existing stocks for another year if they were labeled and released for shipping before the cancellation date. No one is allowed to make new dimethoate products labeled for these cancelled uses. End users can continue to use dimethoate products according to the pesticide label. You can read the details at http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-PEST/2004/January/Day-28/p1824.htm, or you can contact Patrick Dobak, Special Review and Reregistration Division (703) 308-8180 or dobak.pat@epa.gov.

Even though end-users can use their existing products for the cancelled uses (if the product is labeled for that use), there is always a risk of bad publicity if you continue to sell a food product that may have residues of a canceled chemical. The best advice may be to use your dimethoate for uses that will remain on the label.

Don't Do It

According to WJXT News in Jacksonville, Fla., a former employee is suing a lawn care company after the company fired him for allegedly blowing the whistle on billing for unwanted services. This former employee and one customer told the news service that the company was charging customers for services that they did not order. The Better Business Bureau reported many similar complaints filed against the company. The attorney for the business denied the allegations. You can read the entire story here http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ibsys/20040207/lo_wjxt/1996250

We did not include this article to smear this company or provide publicity for the employee's case. There are several important lessons illustrated by this situation.

Companies

  1. A company's most important asset is their reputation. This allegation of improper billing will cost this business thousands of dollars even if they win the whistleblower lawsuit. Handle every complaint seriously; keep the customer happy. A representative of the company with the authority to help the customer should speak with them directly. The money you save by mistreating one customer will cost you many times over in loss of future revenue. When people feel like they are treated badly, they tell everybody.
  2. Do not send an uninformed employee to the job site. The person does not have to be an expert on every element of pest management, but they should be able to explain the operation to an untrained person. Provide literature for the on-site person to hand out if extensive training is not feasible or economical. My local doctor typically gives me a hand out that explains my condition along with sources for more information. Apparently, a genetic defect explains why anyone would become an entomologist.

Clients

  1. Homeowners should choose their pest control company carefully. Check with neighbors, friends, and the Better Business Bureau. Interview the company thoroughly about the services, the chemicals, the risks, and the billing. If the company is not eager to discuss their plans, find another company. Most pest control and lawn care businesses are honest and fair, but you cannot identify the bad apples by their ad in the yellow pages.
  2. Supervise your pest control company or lawn care service. We periodically receive calls from clients reporting a 10-minute termite inspection. No one can provide a thorough termite inspection in 10 minutes. Keep in mind, however, that you may not need a pesticide application to your lawn or home, but the company employee should be able to explain clearly why an application is unnecessary.

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 Management 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, send an e-mail to tall@bugs.ent.uga.edu

Or write us:

Department of Entomology
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602

E-mail: bugman@uga.edu

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

http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/entomology/pestnewsletter/newsarchive.html

Sincerely:

Paul Guillebeau, Associate Professor & Extension Entomologist