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

Your Source for Pest Management and Pesticide News

January 2001
Volume 24, No. 1

HAPPY NEW YEAR

SPECIAL TRAINING OPPORTUNITY VIA SATELLITE

We will be conducting our annual pesticide workshop via satellite on February 15

FOOD QUALITY PROTECTION ACT/REREGISTRATION

The revised risk assessment for malathion is available for public comment
The final agreement concerning the diazinon phase-out has been reached

HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Which of the following do you think claims the most lives each year
Public action groups in Canada are calling for a federal ban on many pesticide uses
The EPA is planning to revise pesticide labeling requirements that help protect bees from pesticides
The Indiana Poison Center receives 80,000 calls/year

NEW TOOLS

Georgia tobacco users may use Terramaster 35WP to control pythium root rot

FEDERAL NEWS

What will the new Presidential administration do with pesticide regulation?
Annual pesticide use in the United States increased by 93 millions pounds from 1992-1997
The new federal standards for organic foods have been published

BIOTECHNOLOGY

The American Medical Association concludes that genetically altered foods 'appear safe'
Genetically engineered crops will be responsible for a 13-million-lb-a-year reduction in insecticides and a 45-million-lb reduction in herbicide use by 2009

DON'T DO IT!

Insects occasionally play an important role in bringing murderers to justice

IPM NOTEBOOK

Happy New Year!

It is difficult to believe that 2001 will be our sixth year of operations. No one could feel more fortunate than I. We have wonderful support, many friends, and worthwhile responsibilities. Thanks to you; thanks to the University of Georgia; and thanks to the Creator of us all.

Special Training Opportunity via Satellite

We will be conducting our annual pesticide workshop via satellite on February 15. Our first workshop of the new millennium promises to be the biggest and best ever, with more than a dozen downlink sites across Georgia and one or more sites in Alabama. You can get complete information from your local extension agent or at our web site, http//entomology.ent.uga.edu

If you live near Birmingham, you can get information about the Alabama sites from your county extension office. Commercial pesticide applicators in Georgia will receive five hours of recertification credit in any nonstructural category. Y'all come!

Food Quality Protection Act/Reregistration

The revised risk assessment for malathion is available for public comment. You can take a look at http://www.epa.gov/pesticides Do not assume that you are not intelligent or educated enough to help EPA with their assessment. If you use malathion, you may have some insight that has not been considered in the assessment. Take the time to comment. The deadline is February 12.

The final agreement concerning the diazinon phase-out has been reached.

All indoor uses (except mushroom house treatment) will be canceled March 2001. All retail sales for these uses will stop December 31, 2002.

Manufacturing for all lawn, garden, and turf uses stops June 1, 2003. Production of lawn/garden/turf products will be reduced by 25 percent in 2002 and 50 percent in 2003. Sales and distribution for these products will stop August 1, 2003. All registrations for these uses will be canceled December 31, 2004, and the registrants will initiate a buy-back program for remaining retail stock..

The Agency will cancel registrations for alfalfa, celery, red chicory, citrus, coffee, cotton, cowpeas, cucumbers, dandelions, forage grass, lespedeza, parsley, parsnips, peanuts, pecans, potatoes, rangeland grasses, sorghum, soybeans, strawberries, sugarcane, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, tomatoes, and turnips. Agricultural registrations will remain for about 40 mostly minor uses for which there is no alternative to diazinon. (Pesticide & Environmental News, 12-7-00)

Health and the Environment

Which of the following do you think claims the most lives each year: scholastic football, electric power, pesticides (you guessed I would include that one), smoking (an easy one), bicycles, or daytime television?

Think about your answers, then look at the end of the newsletter for the actual rankings from insurance actuarial estimates (Scientific American 2-82, via Pest Control 2-87).

Public action groups in Canada are calling for a federal ban on many pesticide uses (The Gazette, 12-4-00). The action groups have a powerful symbol. A 17-year old boy has cancer, and he is "100-percent sure that pesticides gave [him] cancer." Only an unfeeling clod would not feel sympathy for a child with cancer, and no one could prove that pesticide exposure did not contribute to his condition. However, emotionalism is not a sound foundation for the regulation of risk.

A number of communities in Canada have banned many uses of pesticides, and the matter is coming to a head for the federal administration. The heart of the matter is the right of individual communities to establish regulations concerning pesticides or other environmental threats. On the surface, it seems fair for local communities to establish such regulations, but the situation could quickly become unreasonable. Imagine that individual communities can make their own regulations regarding automobile emissions. Suppose you drive your car across the country and visit 20 or more quaint hamlets. You could be expected to know and abide by the air emission regulations for each of those towns, and each village could have a different standard. It could be almost impossible to drive across the state, much less across the country. The same principle applies to a pest control company that is trying to establish a national business. The sheer costs of investigating thousands of regulations would drive the company out of business.

The movement in Canada also calls for the elimination of pesticides for "cosmetic" uses in parks and other municipal areas. I can support this viewpoint. It does not bother me if some weeds grow in my yard, and you know how an entomologist feels about insects. However, most people do not feel this way, and I would anticipate a public outcry to maintain an attractive "cosmetic" appearance in parks. OK, we can use things other than pesticides, such as weed-eaters, hoes, or chain saws (for the really tough weeds). First problem, these other alternatives are much more expensive than pesticides for weed control. Is the public willing to pay more to maintain the parks? Second, weed-eaters, hoes, and chain saws are much more dangerous than the pesticides they replace.

In Los Angeles County (CA), officials banned herbicide use for district schools and budgeted $650,000 and 15 full-time weeders as a replacement. Thus far, the county is using 37 full-time employees, and the cost is estimated at $1.5 million.

The EPA is planning to revise pesticide labeling requirements that help protect bees from pesticides. Bees are critical pollinators, and many pesticides are dangerous to bees. Until now, pesticide labels were required to say, "This product is highly toxic to bees . . . Do not apply this product if bees are visiting the treatment area." The language was slightly different depending on the pesticide's toxicity for bees.

The new label language will indicate how long the pesticide is expected to remain toxic to bees after application. If no data are available for bee toxicity, the label language will assume the pesticide is toxic to bees for at least 24 hours. The aim of the new language is to protect managed bees. If the applicator and the beekeeper know how long the pesticide will kill bees, they can act accordingly.

Exceptions could include pesticides that are toxic to bees for less than 12 hours (allowing an evening application), pesticides that are not applied to the plant (soil incorporation), and applicators that participate in a state-approved bee protection plan.

As you can see, these new regulations could increase data requirements for pesticide manufacturers. Additionally, there could be additional burdens on pesticide users and state regulatory agencies.

The comment period for these new label requirements is open until January 22. If you might be affected, take the time to review the new regs and provide feedback. You can see the notice at the EPA web site http://www.epa.gov/pesticides or you can contact Jim Roelofs for more information at 703-308-2964 or roelofs.jim@epa.gov (Pesticide & Environmental News, 11-3-00)

The Indiana Poison Center receives 80,000 calls/year; how many are related to pesticides? Only 5 percent of the calls involve pesticides. Medications (prescription and over-the-counter) account for more than 40 percent of the calls. (The Label, 10-00)

Although pesticides were a small percentage of the total calls, nearly all of these incidents could be avoided. Lock pesticides away from small children! Do not rely on a cabinet latch to keep out an inquisitive toddler, and your orders to stay away may make the cabinet even more attractive. Also remember that many poisoning incidents occur away from the child's home. Be doubly attentive when visiting.

Some groups are pushing to restrict or eliminate the use of antibiotics in agriculture production. Antibiotics are used in two major ways in agriculture. Antibiotics are used to treat plant and animal disease. Secondly, subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics are commonly used in animal production systems (e.g., hogs) to promote growth.

There is legitimate concern that low doses of antibiotics promote the development of disease organisms that are resistant to antibiotics. If these resistant bacteria could be passed to humans, the resulting disease could be difficult to treat. The use of low-dose antibiotics in animal production systems concerns me, but I do not claim to be an expert on the transmission of animal-to-human diseases.

The FDA will withdraw approval for the use of fluoroquinolones, an antibiotic used in poultry production. Campylobacter is a common cause of food-borne illness, and some Campylobacter populations are resistant to fluoroquinolones. The FDA is convinced that use of fluoroquinolones in poultry production contributed to the development of resistance. You can read the details at http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/1999/599_bug.html

That prologue leads me to the real point of this story. I am concerned that antibiotics may be restricted or banned for other agricultural uses as well. For example, bacterial spot is a serious disease of Eastern peaches, and the varieties that consumers prefer are particularly susceptible. Mycoshield is a critical pesticide to control bacterial spot; the active ingredient is oxytetracycline. Oxytetrecycline is also the active ingredient in some human antibiotics (e.g., Terramycin). If eastern peach growers cannot use Mycoshield, they would face serious yield/quality losses.

If you use antibiotics in your production system, your commodity organization needs evidence that your antibiotic use does not contribute to antibiotic resistance in human disease organisms. For example, the peach industry may demonstrate that no oxytetracycline remains on the fruit by the time the peaches are harvested.

You may argue that comparing hog production and peach production is comparing apples and oranges, but I can easily see wholesale restriction or elimination of antibiotics for all agricultural uses. Producers need to make a clear distinction between low-dose animal production use and therapeutic use of antibiotics.

New Tools

Georgia tobacco users may use Terramaster 35WP to control pythium root rot in tobacco transplant float beds. Terramaster can be applied at a maximum rate of 2 oz/100 gallons of float bed water. A second 2 oz/100 gallons application is allowed no later than eight weeks after seeding.

Federal News

What will the new presidential administration do with pesticide regulation? What will the old administration leave behind?

There is some talk that the Bush administration will gut funding for FQPA activities. Do not applaud prematurely. If FQPA funding is slashed, the EPA may still be required to make decisions. The Agency could be forced to make regulatory decisions on important pesticides with little or no data. Assumptions could drive regulation instead of facts. I would like to see increased funding for FQPA decisions, but I would also like to see EPA always follow the decision protocol instead of jumping to the end of the process through negotiated settlements with the registrants. In several cases, it seems the Agency may have removed important pesticide tools without defining risks or full consideration of mitigation options. Organophosphates are old technology, and they can be dangerous in some situations. On the other hand, organophosphates are cheap, and they are effective and safe for many pest management situations. Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

I do not think that the Bush team will substantially change FQPA activities. After all, FQPA was not a partisan activity; it passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate. Additionally, the rally cry for FQPA is more safety for children. Politically, it is very dangerous to say anything negative about FQPA. Finally, the Bush administration is already being construed as 'anti-environment'. Changes in FQPA implementation will add fuel to the fire.

As Clinton leaves office, there is a flurry of last minute activity and executive orders. Some reports suggest that Clinton might create a new food safety agency and remove pesticide authority from EPA. Although some industry insiders think Clinton will act, I think this new agency is unlikely. Creating another bureaucracy is probably not a good idea, and many groups would fight it. Additionally, it is doubtful the President would have the authority to take this action unilaterally, although you would be surprised what can be accomplished through executive orders. Finally, creating a new food safety agency would make many people feel less confident in the food supply.

According to the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy (not a government agency), annual pesticide use in the United States increased by 93 millions pounds from 1992-1997. Increases were primarily driven by economic and environmental factors. A six-million pound increase in herbicide use was attributed to a federal program that encourages reduced tillage in agricultural production (erosion, not pesticides, is the #1 environmental concern for surface water). A two-million pound insecticide increase in cotton was associated with the boll weevil eradication program (after boll weevil is eradicated from an area, insecticide use on cotton drops dramatically). Potato farmers used 37 million more pounds of fungicides and desiccants to protect the crop from a new blight fungus. The single largest increase (48 million pounds) was triggered by a reduction in the price that farmers received for processing oranges. In response, farmers are applying greater quantities of a less-expensive pesticidal oil.

Increased pesticide use was not the rule across the board. The introduction of new pesticide products reduced overall pesticide use by 17 million pounds. The introduction of cotton with the Bacillus thuringiensis gene (the toxin kills caterpillars) reduced insecticide use by two million pounds.

You can see the entire report on the web at http://www.ncfap.org/ under "Pesticide Use Program." (Pesticide & Environmental News, 12-7-00)

What do the changing pesticide use numbers mean to the health of humans and the environment? Nothing. In most cases, it is impossible to correlate pesticide use (in pounds applied) with a particular level of risk. Suppose I currently apply a low toxicity product at a rate of 10 pounds per acre. If I switch to a high-toxicity product that is applied at 0.5 pounds/acre, the risks have not been reduced 20-fold. The situation is made even more complex because different pesticide products are not associated with the same risks. Is a pesticide that is toxic to fish 'better' than a pesticide that is toxic to birds?

Do not be fooled by arguments that rely on pesticide use reduction (or increases) as their basis for comparison.

The new federal standards for organic foods have been published. The final rule becomes effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register (Dec. 21), and you will start to see products with the organic label by this summer. Farms with more than $5,000 of organic sales must be certified as organic by an approved state agency or USDA. Producers with less than $5,000 in organic sales are exempt from certification. In addition to restrictions on pesticides, there are also regulations concerning the types of fertilizers and the length of time (3 years) since non-approved substances were applied to the field. You can find a lot more information at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/ You can find a list of acceptable substances at
http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/rule/Subparts%20A-F%20Pages/nopnl.htm

Biotechnology

The American Medical Association concludes that genetically altered foods "appear safe." The AMA Council on Scientific Affairs delivered this report at the December meeting of AMA House of Delegates. (Agromedicine Program Update, 12-15-00)

According to Kline and Company consultants, genetically engineered crops will be responsible for a 13-million-lb-a-year reduction in insecticides and a 45-million-lb reduction in herbicide use by 2009. The biggest reduction is expected to come from the utilization of genetically engineered corn to control corn rootworm. Currently, an enormous amount of soil insecticide is applied to control rootworm. Unfortunately, much of this pesticide is unnecessary, but it must be applied because there is no way to predict where rootworm problems will occur. Engineered cotton is already reducing the amount of insecticide applied to cotton. Further reductions are predicted as growers shift from pre-plant/pre-emergence herbicides to over-the-top applications of glyphosate and other herbicides to crop plants engineered to tolerate herbicides. You can find the whole story on the web http://www.klinegroup.com/Press/6_20001024.htm

Public acceptance of genetically engineered commodities remains a major wild-card for these predictions. Companies that market non-engineered commodities will imply that their products are less risky or more "natural." If the prices of non-engineered commodities are similar to engineered commodities, I expect that most consumers will prefer non-engineered products. Companies marketing engineered commodities can claim that the crops were grown with fewer pesticides in some cases, I do not think that claim will sway many buyers.

Until genetically engineered commodities can offer some tangible benefit to consumers (e.g., cheaper, better taste, better nutrition), it may be difficult to gain a large market share. Up to this point, there has been a large market share for engineered products because there has not been a visible 'non-engineered' market.

Take this example, a parent is buying a children's cereal. One box of flakes clearly states, "THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS NO GENETICALLY ENGINEERED COMPONENTS." The other box says nothing; the flakes may or may not contain genetically engineered soy products or corn. The prices are similar. Which box will the parent buy?

Take this illustration one step further. The recent taco shell incident makes it clear that our distribution system cannot ensure that genetically engineered corn remains isolated from other corn. If consumers prefer the non-engineered products, the genetically engineered corn will be pushed out of the system. Our current system of corn production has already demonstrated that we can supply enough corn without genetically engineered corn. Clearly, we do not have to use genetically engineered corn.

In the case of corn and the rootworm, I think the environmental savings are enormous if we replace soil insecticides with genetically engineered corn. However, if parents are concerned about the potential health effects of the engineered corn, I do not think that environmental savings will convince them to buy the engineered flakes for their children.

Now, if we can produce a genetically engineered product that guarantees weight loss or retards hair loss, I don't think consumers will even think about any potential health effects.

Don't Do It!

Insects occasionally play an important role in bringing murderers to justice. In delicate terms, insects discover dead bodies very quickly, and they colonize these food/breeding resources in an orderly manner. Thus, scientists can sometimes determine important facts about a human death, such as time-of-death.

As with any scientific field, it takes research to develop utility for real-world situations. At the University of Tennessee, a two-acre experimental farm is used to investigate exactly (and I do mean exactly) what happens to human bodies after they die. I will spare you the details, but the story that appeared in the New York Times (12-3-00) was fascinating. The work is undoubtedly important and interesting from a distance. If I look for a career change, however, I will look in the opposite direction.

IPM Notebook

Answers to Health/Environment Quiz:

According to insurance company estimates,

  1. smoking (150,000 U.S. deaths per year)
  2. electric power (14,000)
  3. scholastic football (23)
  4. pesticides (22)

I know this data is from 1982, but it is unlikely these rankings have changed much. If anything, pesticides in toto (not the dog) are safer because some of the most toxic chemicals (e.g., phosdrin and ethyl parathion) have been canceled.

The point of this exercise is to indicate how risk perception, rather than actual risk, typically drives political activity and regulation. The United States is spending millions to tighten the reins on pesticides and even canceling a number of very important tools. On the other hand, no one calls for a ban on football or electricity. These figures indicate that electric power is responsible for more than 500 times as many deaths as pesticides, but I have not heard one word about tightening federal regulations on the use of electricity. (I don't want my lights turned off; I just want to point out that we accept some risks because of the benefits we receive.)

An additional factor is publicity. Some very active groups have made pesticides their target, and they have done a good job of putting pesticide fears into the public conscience. Look at the impact of the additional publicity about tobacco risks. I even made my kids stop taking cigarettes to school. Bottom line: look at the facts and do not blindly accept the opinions of actors or 'experts' (even me).

P.S. I made up the part about daytime television. It puts millions into a coma, but I don't know that it actually kills them.

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/Agriculture/entomology/pestnewsletter/newsarchive.html

Sincerely:

Paul Guillebeau, Associate Professor & Extension Entomologist