Cooperative Extension Service
The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
August 2000/Volume 23, No. 8
FOOD QUALITY PROTECTION ACT/RE-REGISTRATION
The EPA plans to cap production of azinphos-methyl for at least one year
Novartis will not support indoor uses for diazinon
The revised risk assessment for oxamyl is available
The revised risk assessment for phosalone is available
The Committee to Advise on Reassessment and Transition (CARAT) met for the first time in July
HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
EPA has passed controversial water regulations
According to the National Research Council, there is no current justification to abandon chemical pesticides
How much flour does a child in the South consume in a year?
Would you like to know how EPA assesses pesticide exposure from foods?
The EPA reports that 94 percent of American water systems reported no violations of health-based drinking water standards
Barbara Boxer (California) is trying to add anti-pesticide
amendments to appropriations bills
The EPA has begun a nationwide campaign to promote pesticide safety
opponents have launched a major campaign directly against food
companies that use genetically modified (GM) components
According to a recent USDA survey, genetically modified crops are grown on large acreage in the United States.
DON'T DO IT!
in Virginia reached for the gasoline when they had a problem with
Make sure your pest control company is following the pest control contract
The OFF! company sends these pointers about biting mosquitoes
Methyl bromide is scheduled for phase-out by 2005, but alternatives may not be available
MINOR CROP NEWS
The success of organic crops may also be their downfall
Comment period alert! The EPA is beginning to formulate a strategy for combining risks from pesticides with a similar toxic mode of action. The cumulative risk assessment could be a major factor deciding the fate of many pesticides. Until now, the Agency has been formulating risk assessments for individual organophosphates; the individual assessments (with a good dose of politics) resulted in some major regulatory actions, particularly for azinphos-methyl, chlorpyrifos, and methyl parathion. The new law also requires EPA to assess risks for all of the organophosphates together. Comment on the document at www.epa.gov/pesticides
I went to the technical briefing for the cumulative risk assessment in Washington, DC. The EPA readily admits that cumulative risk assessment is a very complex task, and they welcome technical advice to better implement the process. Keep in mind, however, that the Agency is strongly influenced by politics and time constraints. The EPA will be required to make decisions regarding the cumulative risk assessment whether we participate or not.
The EPA will only conduct cumulative risk assessments for groups of chemicals that have the same mechanism of toxic activity, even down to the molecular level. This definition would seem to do two things. The organophosphates will not be assessed with the carbamates. There has been concern that both the carbamates and the organophosphates would be viewed as one group. Secondly, the EPA may not be able to conduct a cumulative assessment of the B2 carcinogens.
During the meeting, I noticed that FQPA states that EPA will consider pesticides 'and other substances' in the cumulative risk assessment. I asked the Agency if natural substances and/or drugs would be part of the pesticide risk cup if they had a similar mechanism of activity. The EPA had not considered the implications of 'other substances' for the pesticide risk cup. They did not have a plan for inclusion of 'other substances.' Later, a representative from Bayer Corporation indicated that nearly all of the large pesticide companies also make pharmaceuticals. Bayer has a drug for Alzheimer's that acts exactly like an organophosphate insecticide. On one hand, it seems ludicrous to include drugs or natural substances in the pesticide risk cup. However, children may also be exposed to these other substances, and if these chemicals are similar to organophosphates . . .
I do not think that EPA has plans to include drugs or naturally occurring chemicals in the pesticide risk cup. However, if the law clearly states that EPA must include these other substances, the Agency can be forced to include them through the courts.
The EPA plans to cap production of azinphos-methyl for at least one year to develop a mechanism that could be applied to other pesticides. The Agency will hold a public meeting on September 7 to solicit comments from scientists, health experts, industry representatives, etc. The EPA wants a capping plan that is simple to administer and that allows for economic competition among various companies.
You can submit your comments to EPA via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org You must refer to the docket number OPP-00666 (I am sure this docket number is just a coincidence). Comments must be received by August 24.
Here are some of the questions that EPA must answer to develop a workable policy for capping pesticide production.
See www.epa.gov/pesticides for details. Look under 'Upcoming Meetings.'
Keep in mind that the production cap for azinphos-methyl is the model for the future. I can foresee a production cap on all of the organophosphates combined.
If you want more information, contact Richard Dumas of EPA at (703) 308-8015, FAX (703) 308-8041, or email@example.com
Novartis will not support indoor uses for diazinon. The EPA informed the company that additional data would be required to maintain indoor uses. Novartis decided that these registrations would not be worth the research investment. The company's decision will eliminate uses in greenhouses, residential settings, commercial buildings, hospitals, schools, museums, sports facilities, stores and, warehouses. Novartis and EPA will meet to discuss the terms and time-table for the 'voluntary' cancellation.
Read the details at www.cp.us.novartis.com/diazinon
The revised risk assessment for oxamyl is available at www.epa.gov/pesticides If oxamyl is important to you, take the time to review the document and offer comments.
The revised risk assessment for phosalone is available at www.epa.gov/pesticides/op This organophosphate insecticide is used to control insects and mites on almonds, grapes, pome fruits, and stone fruits in other countries that export food to the United States. There are no registered uses for phosalone in the United States. If EPA cancels the import tolerance, foreign producers would not be able to use phosalone on products bound for the United States. Comments must be submitted by September 25, 2000.
The Committee to Advise on Reassessment and Transition (CARAT) met for the first time in July. This committee replaced the Tolerance Reassessment Advisory Committee. Both committees were created to advise EPA in the implementation of FQPA. CARAT is supposed to represent the next phase, as growers make the transition from supposedly more risky pesticides.
The first meeting focused on economics. Both universities and growers are in peril. Land-grant universities are expected to help growers find alternatives to lost pesticides. However, funding has not increased. Growers are being forced to move to other alternatives that are much more expensive. Because of new EPA restrictions, growers are replacing $10-$15/acre pest control with $22-$55 alternatives. In the meantime, foreign competitors continue to use the cheaper materials. (Pesticide & Environmental News, 7-29-00)
Do you think U.S. consumers will pay 200 percent more for domestic produce?
The EPA has passed controversial water regulations in the face of fierce opposition from Congress, prompting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce president to call EPA an 'agency out of control' (You may have used that phrase yourself). The Theoretical Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program would regulate the soil and other particles that run off into U.S. waterways. The regulation will allow states to establish a schedule for cleaning up polluted waters within 10 years, and give them an additional five years if necessary. States would have to make comprehensive pollution surveys of more than 40,000 bodies of water over the next 15 years. They will have to produce their first lists of polluted lakes and rivers in April 2002 and subsequently develop plans to clean them up. The National Governors' Association estimates that the surveys alone will cost from $1 billion to $2 billion.
There is widespread opposition to this EPA program. According to the head of the House Transportation Committee, "EPA is taking this action in the face of overwhelming opposition from the National Governors' Association, small businesses, farmers and other landowners across America, and in direct defiance of a directive by Congress to forego finalizing or implementing these new rules this year or next." Nearly half the members of the House cosponsored a bill to block the EPA program. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is concerned that the new rule would take away states' current control over water quality programs already in place, and stunt economic growth and development. The American Farm Bureau said, "The EPA plan would cripple farm, ranches and forestry operations at a time when producers can least afford new regulations." Certainly no one is against clean water, but there is legitimate concern about the costs of cleanup, and the imposition of additional regulatory oversight. For now, Congress has blocked EPA action until October 2001, and further Congressional action is expected.
Proponents of the regulation praise EPA and dispute the idea that the rule will impose new regulatory requirements on farmers, builders, etc., because the new regulation will simply focus existing regulations. The White House calls the new rules 'common sense' for cleaning up polluted waterways, and EPA says the regulation will remove the greatest threat to waterways, polluted runoff. The new rules follow a 1998 assessment that found that runoff from agricultural lands and urban areas has made 40 percent of the nation's waterways unacceptable for fishing and swimming. About 291,000 miles of rivers and streams do not meet water quality standards because of bacteria, siltation, metals and nutrients, such as phosphorous and nitrogen, used in agriculture.
You can see the final rule at http://www.epa.gov/owow/tmdl/finalrule/
According to the National Research Council, there is no current justification to abandon chemical pesticides. Newer pesticides are more compatible with ecological goals, and feasible alternatives are not available for many situations. "No single pest-management strategy will work in all ecosystems, so chemicals need to be part of an ecologically based framework that can safely increase crop yields."
The Council also called for increased funding of basic pest management research; this type of research funding should become a greater part of the funding mission for National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Currently, nearly all funding for this type of research comes from USDA.
The Council echoed concerns from other reports concerning the safety of agricultural workers. This report calls for a comprehensive study of workers who use pesticides and compliance with the EPA Worker Protection Standard (WPS).
This report should carry some weight. The National Research Council is the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering. Maybe the Federal government will channel more money into pest management research. Scientists have said all along that universities can find many more pest management options with enough time and support. Also look for additional scrutiny of WPS, this report is not the first time I have heard questions regarding worker safety and WPS.
You can find the details of this report on the Internet, http://www4.nationalacademies.org/news.nsf/isbn/0309065267?OpenDocument
How much flour does a child in the South consume in a year? How much corn does a woman in the Northeast consume? The answers to consumption questions are critical to determine dietary risks. The USDA and EPA have developed a new database to assess dietary risks. The Food Commodity Intake Database includes data from two surveys conducted by USDA: Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals and a Supplemental Children's Survey. These surveys provide useful information on 5,831 different foods and beverages people of different ages reported eating in 1994-96 and 1998. These data should help EPA and other agencies to more closely estimate the consumption patterns of various commodities.
The Food Commodity Intake Database is available on CD-ROM from the National Technical Information Service at 1-800-553-6847 or 703-605-6000. You can also order on the Web at www.ntis.gov/fcpc The Product Order Number for the database is PB2000-500101.
Would you like to know how EPA assesses pesticide exposure from foods? The Agency has released a comprehensive guide. You can look at it on the Web: www.epa.gov/pesticides Look under 'What's New.' Remember I said 'comprehensive' not 'comprehensible.'
The EPA reports that 94 percent of American water systems reported no violations of health-based drinking water standards. "Providing Safe Drinking Water in America: 1998 National Public Water Systems Compliance Report," provides compliance data on public water systems in the United States. Additionally, 84 percent of all violations were reported from small systems that serve fewer than 3,500 people. The report also discusses the public's right to know about the safety of drinking water. You can find the report at http://www.epa.gov/safewater (Arrow Newsletter, 7-00)
Senator Barbara Boxer (California) is trying to add anti-pesticide amendments to appropriations bills. Adding unrelated amendments to other, necessary legislation is a common ploy to pass laws that otherwise would have little chance of passage. Frequently, unwanted amendments are attached to funding bills. If the bills do not pass, the funding cannot be released. If the funding bill passes, then any attached amendments also pass. (Bayer Product Safety Update, 7-14-00)
If you are politically active, you should contact your congressional representatives to let them know how you feel. No one wants pesticides to threaten human health or the environment, but issues need full and open debate in order to arrive at feasible solutions.
The EPA has begun a nationwide campaign to promote pesticide safety. Watch for advertisements on large trucks and public-service announcements that admonish people to 'Read the Label First.' The ads will also include the telephone number for the National Pesticide Telecommunication Network.
Biotechnology opponents have launched a major campaign directly against food companies that use genetically modified (GM) components. A large coalition of activist groups has targeted Campbell Soups and Kellogg's in 21 cities across the United States. The campaign, GEFoodAlert calls for the removal of all food products that contain GM components. The activists are taking the battle directly to food companies because U.S. regulatory authorities do not consider GM foods to be a health threat.
A Campbell's spokesman indicated that the company does not intend to avoid the use of GM components. Neither Campbell's nor Kellogg's uses GM components in their European products. It would be more difficult for either company to avoid GM ingredients in the United States because a large portion of U.S. corn and soybean acreage is planted to GM varieties.
One goal of the campaign is to raise public concerns about GM foods before the September White House release of administrative rules on biotechnology. The proposed rules would call for voluntary labeling of foods with GM components.
If you are an opponent of GM foods or if you want to know more about this campaign, visit the GEFoodAlert website http://www.gefoodalert.org/html/campaignCentral.htm I do not endorse this campaign, but I do think that people have a right to complain and protest. (Washington Post, 7-20-00 and PANUPS, 7-20-00)
According to a recent USDA survey, genetically modified crops are grown on large acreage in the United States. The report indicates that more than 60 percent of upland cotton in the United States is genetically modified, along with 54 percent of the soybean acreage and 25 percent of the corn acreage. To view the entire report, visit their website at www.usda.gov/nass/pubs/pubs.htm
Officials in Virginia reached for the gasoline when they had a problem with Africanized bees. A swarm of Africanized bees, a.k.a. killer bees, hitched a ride on a truck or train and arrived near Low Moor, Virginia. The bees took over a hive of local honeybees and fiercely defended their new territory. A goat was killed, and three people were hospitalized. Officials believe they got rid of the Africanized bees by dousing the hive with gasoline. Fortunately, no one was killed. I know these 'officials' did not get this recommendation from the Virginia extension service. (Washington Post, 7-20-00)
There are three very important reasons to use pesticides instead of gasoline to control pests.
Make sure your pest control company is following the pest control contract. Internal memos of Orkin Exterminating indicate that employees did not always do the work for which customers were paying. The most common incident cited was failure to conduct scheduled termite inspections. (Associated Press, 7-30-00)
An annual inspection is a critical element in protecting your home from termite damage. This discovery does not mean that Orkin is an irresponsible company; after all, an internal audit by the company revealed the problems. Every large company has a few bad apples, and there are some irresponsible pest control companies. Read your pest control contract and make sure the company is holding up their end of the bargain. If you are not happy with your service, contact the company administration. If you are still not satisfied, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
The OFF! company sends these pointers about biting mosquitoes.
(OFF! Mosquito Bite Prevention Guide)
So, to avoid mosquito bites, find yourself a tall or big woman who is very fidgety. Dress her in dark clothes and cover her with perfume. Ask her to walk around close to you while you stand quite still.
Methyl bromide is scheduled for phase-out by 2005, but alternatives may not be available. The House Agriculture subcommittee on livestock and horticulture recently conducted a hearing on the loss of methyl bromide and the potential impacts to U.S. production. California and Florida face the biggest losses. Nearly all Florida strawberry acreage is treated with methyl bromide, and California producers expect to lose 15-20 percent of producer revenue. According to the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, national losses could approach $500 million.
A big part of the problem will be the competitive disadvantage for U.S. growers. Developing countries, like Mexico, can continue to use methyl bromide until 2015. Mexico is a major competitor for the United States in the production of many crops, especially tomatoes and strawberries. In the 10-year lapse after U.S. phase-out, Mexico may gain a large proportion of the U.S. market. It may be impossible for U.S. growers to regain the lost market.
Additionally, the environmental savings may be minimal. If methyl bromide use simply shifts from the United States to Mexico, we may not realize more environmental protection. In the United States, greater use of other pesticides will probably result from the loss of methyl bromide.
Some alternatives, like heat sterilization and composting, have shown promise in some situations. For many cases, however, there are no feasible alternatives for the foreseeable future. (Pesticide & Toxic Chemical News, 7-2-00)
Keep two other points in mind. Two states, California and Florida, will suffer the biggest losses from the loss of methyl bromide. These two states wield enormous political power, and a presidential election is on the horizon. Secondly, China has not signed any treaty to phase out the use of methyl bromide, and there are reports that China is building facilities to produce their own methyl bromide.
The USDA IR-4 program exists to help minor crops/uses obtain pesticide registrations, but you must tell them what you need. At a recent IR-4 presentation, I learned that many growers do not participate in the IR-4 program. If you do not make your needs known, do not expect relief from IR-4. See http://deal.unl.edu/pesticide/ to submit requests. It will hurt (or help) if many growers submit similar requests.
The success of organic crops may also be their downfall. Demand for organic crops has been growing at 20 percent per year, and new federal regulations may increase the market further. If the economic returns grow large enough, the money will attract large corporations into the market. Smaller growers may not be able to compete. Ironically, part of the organic appeal is that the produce is grown by small, family farms.
The appearance of any trade name in this newsletter is not intended to endorse that product nor convey negative implications of unmentioned products.
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.
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Department of Entomology
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
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Paul Guillebeau, Associate Professor & Extension Entomologist