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

Your source for pest management and pesticide news

June 2003/Volume 26, No. 6

FOOD QUALITY PROTECTION ACT AND REREGISTRATION

The EPA has received a request from the registrant to cancel all registrations for fenthion
The EPA Scientific Advisory Panel will review information regarding atrazine exposure and amphibian deformities
The EPA has released their framework for the cumulative assessment of pesticide risks

WORKER PROTECTION STANDARD

The EPA has imposed the largest WPS penalty ever in a case with over 200 safety violations

HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Proposed regulation in California would ban hand weeding because of potential back injuries

NEWS YOU CAN USE

Finally , there is a show about the history of pest management
Each new growing season brings a new crop of telephone and Internet vendors with "great" deals on pesticides

FEDERAL NEWS

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has granted the association's petition for review and vacated EPA's moratorium on using human clinical test data in pesticide risk assessment

BIOTECHNOLOGY

Protestors in Manila recently ended a month-long fast against the commercialization of Bt corn in the Philippines

DON'T DO IT

Killingsworth Pest Control of Cantonment, Florida, may be facing large criminal and civil penalties for defrauding customers and the tax man
Environmental groups are protesting emergency exemptions for the use of carbofuran

Food Quality Protection Act and Reregistration

The EPA has received a request from the registrant to cancel all registrations for fenthion. The Agency intends to grant this request by issuing a cancellation order at the close of the comment period for this announcement unless the Agency receives substantive comments within the comment period that would merit its further review of this request. It is EPA's intent that the effective date of the cancellation order, as requested by Bayer, will be June 30, 2004. Upon the effective date of the cancellation order, any distribution or sale of products listed in this notice will be prohibited as of June 30, 2004, except for return of unused portions to Bayer or for proper disposal. EPA expects use of products listed in this notice will be permitted until November 30, 2004. Any such use must be in accordance with the label. Bayer has submitted, and EPA intends to approve, label amendments intended to further mitigate the risks of fenthion. Comments on the requested registration cancellations must be identified by docket ID number OPP-2003-0122. Comments must be received on or before July 29, 2003. For more information, contact Susan Jennings, Special Review and Reregistration Division at (706) 355-8574 or jennings.susan@epa.gov

Fenthion, an organophosphate, has been widely used to control adult mosquitoes. In addition to questions about human safety, there have widespread concerns about risks to birds and other nontarget organisms.

The EPA Scientific Advisory Panel will review information regarding atrazine exposure and amphibian deformities. In case you were out, amphibian deformities were widespread for a couple of years, and many people were concerned. Because atrazine can be found in water almost everywhere, it was logical to think that atrazine might be involved. However, other researchers have found other potential causes for the amphibian mutations.

After evaluating 17 laboratory and field studies drawn from published research and studies submitted directly to the Agency, EPA has developed a "white paper" that assesses the strengths and limitations of the available studies. EPA has also evaluated the nature and strength of dose-response relationships and developed a conceptual model to address uncertainties in determining a causal relationship between atrazine exposure and amphibian development. Under an amended consent decree with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), EPA is required to develop and submit a paper to a Scientific Advisory Panel for review and comment that considers data available as of Feb. 28, 2003, on the potential effects of atrazine on amphibians. The Scientific Advisory Panel is meeting on June 17 in Arlington, Va. EPA will consider any comments submitted by the Panel when it issues a revised "Interim Reregistration Eligibility Decision" for atrazine, which will occur on or before October 31. Information on the public meeting and the paper is available at http://www.epa.gov/scipoly/sap/#june (EPA Pesticide Program Update, 5-30-03)

The EPA has released their framework for the cumulative assessment of pesticide risks. The FQPA requires the Agency to evaluate the cumulative risks posed by a group of pesticides with a similar toxic mode of action. For example, all of the organophosphate insecticides act on the same nerve enzyme, but they are not all equally toxic. The EPA has been trying to determine the best way to add the risks of the various OP pesticides. Before FQPA, the risk analysis considered pesticides individually. Although the cumulative assessment is a logical progression, the analysis is much more complicated.

The Framework identifies key terms and basic elements of the assessment process and provides a flexible structure for addressing relevant scientific issues. EPA risk assessors will use the Framework as a basis for future guidance as EPA continues with assessment and regulatory activities. The Framework document is available on the Internet at http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/raf

Worker Protection Standard

The EPA has imposed the largest WPS penalty ever in a case with over 200 safety violations.The Agency issued complaints against five growers in Colorado for violations of FIFRA and WPS. In one of the cases, EPA proposes a penalty of nearly $232,000, the largest proposed federal WPS misuse penalty in EPA history.

The EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance stated that "Environmental justice is one of the highest priorities for EPA's enforcement program, and this Agency will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure agricultural workers and pesticide handlers are protected from harmful exposure to pesticides. The federal government will not tolerate growers who place their workers in harm's way because they fail to comply with the law."

The record-setting farm employs about 250 mostly seasonal workers and averages $12 million in annual sales. In 2001, the farm received a written warning notice from EPA documenting WPS violations that included not centrally displaying pesticide safety, emergency, and application information for its workers. In a follow-up inspection conducted in 2002, EPA inspectors found that the company still failed to post pesticide-specific application information about all the pesticides applied within the past 30 days in a central location accessible to all of their workers. Specific pesticide application information is crucial in obtaining the best medical care in case of emergency.

For the other four farms, EPA proposes fines ranging from $2,200 to $23,320. The violations included failure to post emergency information in a central location and failure to post pesticide-specific application information in a central location.

There are several issues that merit discussion.

  1. Get in compliance with WPS regulations. You do not want your operation to set the new record for WPS fines. All of the WPS rules are on the web at www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/worker.htm . The Cooperative Extension Service and the Georgia Department of Agriculture will also provide assistance. The form that GDA uses for WPS inspections is here: http://www.ces.uga.edu/Agriculture/Pesticideapplicator/form-WPS.pdf
  2. If GDA or EPA advises corrective action, take their advice. Most fines are imposed because the operator failed to rectify problem situations. The GDA is more interested in compliance than issuing fines.
  3. Attorneys look for new areas of litigation because it represents new markets for them. The $230,000 EPA fine will not go unnoticed. A lawyer may also advise these workers to sue the employer for failing to protect their safety.
  4. Many agricultural workers are minorities. The safety of minority workers is not more important, but more social activists are involved with minority rights. Also, see 3).

(EPA Pesticide Program Update, 6-5-03)

Health and the Environment

Proposed regulation in California would ban hand weeding because of potential back injuries. A hand-weeding bill passed the Assembly and was slated for debate in the Senate's labor committee last year, but it never got there after farmers and farm workers failed to find a compromise. A similar bill died in the Senate in 1995.

In a report, the safety and health division found that hand weeding may contribute to back, shoulder, wrist and hand injuries. The division's medical unit also issued a memo in 1993 further criticizing the practice because workers are exposed to pesticides and fecal matter in soil. The goal is to come up with a regulation that prohibits hand weeding in situations where a long-handled tool can be used.

Farmers opposed the proposal because they say hoes damage delicate crops like strawberries and cilantro. As weeds start to grow in between the plants during the spring, workers can easily damage young crop plants with a hoe. Furthermore, organic growers cannot use herbicides. Mike Webb, of the Western Growers Association, which represents the fruit and vegetable industries in California and Arizona, said he's not sure how farmers could stay competitive if hand weeding is banned. "Hand weeding is absolutely essential in farming. In almost every single crop in California hand weeding is done — lettuce, cilantro and strawberries, bell peppers, carrots, asparagus — you have weeds growing up right next to plant and it makes it impossible to weed,'' he said. (AP, 5-1-03)

The short-handled hoe, known as el cortito, was banned in California in 1975, the same year the state enacted the Agricultural Labor Relations Act that gave farm workers organizing and collective bargaining rights. Workers were prohibited from using short-handled hoes — those with handles less than 4 feet — for weeding and thinning crops because of the damage stooping causes to workers' backs. At the time, farmers argued that workers closer to the ground did more careful work, and some tried to get around the ban by issuing workers short-handled knives, promoting a 1978 ban on all short-handled tools.

However, the 1975 ban does not apply to hand weeding, and some farmers are reportedly providing workers with no hoes when sending them to fields. Some employers prefer to have workers bending as they work in order to more easily determine who is working.

With a ban on short-handled tools, a ban on hand weeding seems logical, but there should be another solution. You could limit the hours or days/week that a worker performs hand-weeding activities.

Final thoughts. I wish the hand-weeding ban had applied to my Grandpa when I was growing up. And I hope my children never hear about it.

News You Can Use

Finally, there is a show about the history of pest management. MODERN MARVELS® traces the evolution from the simple pest-control measures employed by ancient farmers to the high-tech arsenal of poisons, baits and traps deployed by modern pest management. This inside look at the multi-billion dollar pest-control industry includes flights with mosquito exterminators in Florida, ride-alongs with cockroach killers in Los Angeles (the city where these prehistoric survival specialists pose the greatest problem), and an inside look at how the New York City Department of Health attempts to contain the rats that outnumber the city's 8 million human residents. The weapons in this war have become increasingly high tech, and the foot soldier — the exterminator — has become ever more sophisticated and ecologically aware.

Unfortunately, the show already aired on the History Channel, and I was wasting my time watching the NBA finals. Fortunately, you can buy the program at http://www.historychannel.com/ for about $25. This year could be the Father's Day that I get something I really want. Look for a review in future newsletters.

Each new growing season brings a new crop of telephone and Internet vendors with "great" deals on pesticides. These tips will help you protect yourself. Vendors of pesticides are calling growers and others with claims of having an herbicide product that will kill any weed anywhere and is completely safe and will not harm desirable crops. Often the claim is made that the treated site will remain weed free for many seasons.

In the past, many of these products were not registered with state pesticide regulatory agencies or with the EPA, as required by law. Over time these folks have wised up and often have registered their products. But not always.

However, claims made by these vendors, almost always telephone callers, are suspect if not unbelievable. The product is often said to be offered at a great price but that the grower must make a decision then and there in order to get the cut-rate price on a product whose supplies are going fast. They sometimes make comments on the level of your intelligence if you can't see how good a deal this is and don't jump right on it. If you do jump right on it, I have questions about your level of intelligence.

The product usually is said to contain the same active ingredient as a nationally known herbicide, but can be had for a fraction of the cost. Often the grower is told that his neighbors have purchased the product and wanted him to be able to get the same good deal. Often a minimum amount must be purchased to get the great deal.

What usually happens is that, if a grower makes the purchase, he ends up with multiple containers of the herbicide that is diluted down to the point of the use rate. Thus, the grower has purchased a number of containers that even in total will treat a very small area because the product is already diluted to use rate. AND the grower usually finds that they must also pay the freight on the product. Because the product is so diluted, they are paying to have mostly water shipped to them.

As these things go, the pesticide, usually an herbicide, is often a legally registered product. It can be effective in certain use situations that may match up to some of the claims by the vendors. However, in no instance have these telephone sales ever been a good deal. In fact, you could not find a worse deal. The only advantage is that this bad deal comes to you so you don't have to spend your valuable time hunting it down.

The bad deal usually becomes evident upon receipt of the product and the bill. Many growers are ashamed to admit to their moment of weakness and tell only the fence post. Others who may get steamed try to call the vendor back, only to get a recording or an answering service and are never called back. They often call their county extension agent or pesticide regulatory officials. Those of us in the Extension Service and regulators who try to track these folks down also get recordings or sometimes an answering service or a disconnected number.

What should you do if you get such a call?
- Hang up.

If the temptation is just too great,
- Ask what the active ingredient is.
- Ask what the percent of the active ingredient is in the product.
- Ask how much in acres or square feet the product will cover.
- Ask what the EPA product registration number is.
- Ask if the product is registered in your state.
- Ask for the caller's phone number and mailing address.
- Ask who pays shipping costs and how much they will be.

Usually the caller cannot answer these questions and often hangs up before you get through the list. It is best to stick with dealers and products you know and trust. Anytime someone pressures you to make a decision on the spot or lose the golden opportunity, the opportunity is usually not so golden.

Also, if you decide you do not want the product after receipt and can find out where it would need to be sent back, guess who would pay the freight, again?

Call your county extension agent or pesticide regulatory official if you have any questions on these kinds of sales. To see if a product is registered for sale in your state or to register a complaint, call your pesticide regulatory authority (usually the state Department of Agriculture) or the Cooperative Extension Service. (Thanks to Bob Bellinger)

Federal News

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has granted the association's petition for review and vacated EPA's moratorium on using human clinical test data in pesticide risk assessment. The court ruled that EPA's "previous practice of considering third-party human studies on a case-by-case basis, applying statutory requirements, the Common Rule, and high ethical standards as a guide, is reinstated and remains in effect unless and until it is replaced by a lawfully promulgated regulation."

In 1998, the EPA issued a self-imposed moratorium on using human toxicity tests for pesticide decisions. The pesticide industry attests that human clinical trials with pesticides help refine the parameters and limits of risk and to increase the confidence in risk assessment. Critics counter that these data will not help cure or prevent any disease, so the additional risks are irresponsible. The EPA has asked the National Academy of Sciences to investigate the issue and offer an opinion. CROPLIFE AMERICA (6-3-03)

Biotechnology

Protestors in Manila recently ended a month-long fast against the commercialization of Bt corn in the Philippines. Bt corn has been genetically engineered to include genes from Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium that kills caterpillars. The corn produces its own toxin against caterpillar pests.

The Philippine Department of Agriculture approved the planting and sale of YieldGard Bt corn in December, 2002. Hunger strikers allege that the agriculture department has a contract with Monsanto to buy the genetically engineered corn seeds for free distribution to farmers.

Lying on cots in a traffic circle in front of the Ministry of Agriculture, the hunger strikers consumed only water and juice since April 22. The strikers wanted the Philippine government to declare a moratorium on genetically engineered corn until the safety, environmental, health, and economic concerns had been resolved. Four women and five men began the strike, but physical symptoms had forced all but three to stop their fast. The strikers are affiliated with the Network Opposed to Genetically Modified Organisms! (NO GMOs! I have to admit I was impressed with their acronym.) and represent the Philippine Greens, Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment, Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (better known as PKnmSM), and Earth First!

Mark Cervantes, one of the hunger strikers, urged, "We should not let transnational corporations make the decision about what we should eat; this decision is only ours to make." Philippine activists see the issues of genetically engineered crops, biosafety and biopiracy in their genetically diverse environment as shared by many countries of the global South. Developing countries may be more vulnerable to corporations seeking to sell patented crops or to find species to patent. (PANUPS, 6-4-03)

This last paragraph expresses the concerns of many people. They think that multinational corporations are forcing genetically engineered products upon them. In the United States, it would be somewhat difficult to avoid eating foods with genetically engineered components. People are also concerned that multinational companies and stronger nations take advantage of developing countries. As in many situations, the reality is partly truth and partly public perception.

Don't Do It

Killingsworth Pest Control of Cantonment, Florida, may be facing large criminal and civil penalties for defrauding customers and the tax man. The company faces these charges.

An ex-employee of Killingsworth claims his boss directed him to "go light" on the chemicals to be applied and that the Wal-Mart in Escambia County had no chemicals applied as a pre-treat, yet he believed the company billed for the job anyway. According to court records, that same ex-employee says houses were pre-treated for termites using a "yard spray" (not labeled for termites), which most of the time was diluted with methanol.

Another ex-employee stated in court records that, about three years ago, he and other technicians witnessed the boss and others premixing chemicals; when they complained that the chemicals were diluted, the boss told them "not to let the door hit them on the way out." This same ex-employee stated in court records that following an accident in which OSHA, fire departments and police departments were called to the scene, Killingsworth employees were told to remove lindane from their trucks because lindane was not supposed to be used. (PCT Online, 5-30-03)

If the company survives the criminal and civil actions, hundreds of homeowners will be waiting to sue the company. I do not know how much the company may have profited from illegal activities, but they wind up with nothing.

The best companies try to do the right thing. In the long run, honesty and trust usually make the most profit for a company. If you know of a company that is misleading customers, do not look the other way. One company can make the entire pest control industry look bad.

Environmental groups are protesting emergency exemptions for the use of carbofuran. Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas have requested an exemption to use carbofuran to control cotton aphid. Environmental groups are protesting because they consider carbofuran too risky for birds. More than one million acres of cotton could be sprayed under these exemptions. (PANUPS, 6-6-03)

Although many growers may not realize it (or admit it), we helped to create this problem. Carbofuran is highly toxic to birds. When growers and others realized the toxicity, some shortsighted boneheads began to use carbofuran to kill birds intentionally. Thousands of birds were killed, and people noticed. The EPA restricted the use of carbofuran and banned most granular formulations. Both EPA and environmental groups include the intentional bird kills when they calculate risk estimates. We have made carbofuran appear even more dangerous.

NEVER use a pesticide to kill birds, dogs, cats, fish, coyotes, etc. NEVER give anyone else a pesticide unless you know that they will use it according to the label. NEVER leave pesticides unsecured where people could "borrow" or steal them. In the Southeast, we have two important pesticides hanging by a thread, and we are to blame. Aldicarb (Temik) can be a critical pesticide for pecan growers and cotton farmers. Unfortunately, aldicarb is regularly used to kill dogs and other nuisance animals. Growers use the chemical themselves, or they give small amounts to other people. Phosphine products (e.g., aluminum phosphide) are vital to control pests in stored grains. In several high profile cases, people have been killed accidentally or intentionally by the misuse of phosphine products. In nearly every case, the culprit obtained the phosphine product from their current or former place of work.

The EPA and Georgia Department of Agriculture have restrictions on both aldicarb and phosphine. If misuse continues, they may have no choice except to cancel the registrations. If that happens, many growers will resort to the old refrain, "Why does EPA pick on the poor farmer?"

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 706-542-2816.

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/Agriculture/entomology/pestnewsletter/newsarchive.html

Sincerely:

Paul Guillebeau, Associate Professor & Extension Entomologist