The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Your Source for Pest Management and Pesticide News
July 2002/Volume 25, No. 7
METHYL BROMIDE ALERT
deadline to apply for a methyl bromide critical use exemption is September 9, 2002
The Office of Pesticide Programs (EPA), the Office of Air and Radiation (EPA), and USDA met to discuss how USDA should be involved in critical use exemption
the United States, researchers are
growing genetically engineered crop plants that produce pharmaceuticals and
StarLink corn has been detected in food aid shipments
is officially cancelled with the
revocation of all benomyl tolerances
The EPA is registering thiophanate-methyl for some crops as an alternative to benomyl
The EPA has granted "reduced risk" status to the miticide acequinocyl for use on field ornamentals, pome fruit, citrus, and almonds
The EPA is seeking comments on a guidance document for the evaluation of low toxicity pesticides and inert ingredients
HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
A Georgia Clean
collection is scheduled
for August 20 at North Metro Tech in Acworth
Be careful buying (or selling) pesticides over the Internet
can no longer be legally sold for home uses, but some retailers have not gotten the message
The Canadian province of Quebec plans to ban the use of most nonfarm pesticides by 2005
NEWS YOU CAN USE
The Degesch America Corporation is introducing a new phosphine gas generator
FOOD QUALITY PROTECTION ACT
The EPA has completed their revision of the cumulative risk assessment for the organophosphate pesticides
The deadline to apply for a methyl bromide critical use exemption is September 9, 2002. If you do not apply for an exemption, you will not be able to use methyl bromide for the 2004 season. The final federal rule implements reductions in the production and consumption of methyl bromide for 2001 and beyond, as follows.
January 1, 2001, a 50 percent reduction in baseline levels
January 1, 2003, a 70 percent reduction in baseline levels
January 1, 2005, the complete phase out of methyl bromide.
Obviously, the big problem is the definition of "critical." Methyl bromide is an expensive and dangerous material, so people do not use it unless the use is very important. Naturally, nearly every methyl bromide user will consider their needs to be critical. Unfortunately, the existing regulations do not clear up the definition.
The Montreal Protocol (an international agreement to protect the ozone layer) includes these rules for critical uses of methyl bromide.
"(a) That a use of methyl bromide should qualify as 'critical' only if . . .
(ii) There are no technically and economically feasible alternatives or substitutes available to the user that are acceptable from the standpoint of environment and health and are suitable to the crops and circumstances of the nomination." Keep in mind that these are the international rules, so countries as well as grower groups are debating the word "critical."
Originally, the Clean Air Act (a U.S. law) did not allow any exemptions for the use of methyl bromide. The Act has been amended as follows. To the extent consistent with the Montreal Protocol, the Administrator, after notice and opportunity for public comment, and after consultation with other departments or institutions of the Federal Government having regulatory authority related to methyl bromide, including the Secretary of Agriculture, may exempt the production, importation, and consumption of methyl bromide for critical uses. In a nutshell, any U.S. exemption must be permitted under the Montreal Protocol.
There are two basic steps to obtaining a critical use exemption. First, convince the EPA of the critical use. Secondly, convince the international committees established by the Montreal Protocol (e.g., the Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee and the Technical and Economic Assessment Panel). If you successfully complete those two simple steps, you have a critical use exemption good for one year (possible multiple years with an annual review). Parties that successfully navigate the entire exemption process will be automatically nominated for a special global prize for intelligence and patience.
In addition to basic information (crop, pest, location, etc.), the exemption process requires a great deal of information about alternatives to methyl bromide. The applicant must describe research into alternatives and explain why the current alternatives are not suitable. Plans to develop and commercialize substitutes for methyl bromide are required. Finally, the applicant has to include a plan that will facilitate the substitution of other materials/techniques for methyl bromide.
Post-harvest and structural uses must submit a similar application, but many quarantine and pre-shipment uses of methyl bromide are exempt from the phase-out. If you are unsure if you need to file for an exemption, contact your state pesticide regulators or the EPA.
It should be clear by now that a critical use exemption is not a process to be taken lightly. The process will be lengthy and frustrating. However, help is available. Contact your grower organization or the Extension Service in your state. Each state needs to submit a list of potential candidates to the EPA as soon as possible. Our office, the Georgia Department of Agriculture, and the EPA will help you complete and submit an application. Groups and states with similar needs should complete an application together. An exemption will have greater credibility if it would benefit a larger area or more people.
If you think you might need a critical use exemption for methyl bromide, visit this web site http://www.epa.gov/spdpublc/mbr/cueqa.html You will find a tremendous amount of information, including a handbook for completing an application for a critical use.
The Office of Pesticide Programs (EPA), the Office of Air and Radiation (EPA), and USDA met to discuss how USDA should be involved in critical use exemptions. The USDA committed to be part of the multi-agency team that will develop the U.S. nomination to be sent to the Montreal Protocol Parties. During the application phase, an important role for USDA will be to assist users in accessing available research on alternatives to methyl bromide. Another role USDA will play is in initiating communication with grower groups, especially those that may not have been active in the CUE process previously. USDA will participate with EPA in the review of each CUE application submitted to EPA for consideration, especially regarding the economic impact and technical feasibility of alternatives. In order to lessen the burden on applicants, USDA will also play a role in reviewing and evaluating the list of non-chemical alternatives identified by the Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee to determine those methods that would not be suitable in U.S. agriculture. In such situations, applicants would not need to address that specific alternative in preparing their CUE application. USDA and EPA will work in a partnership to review these applications and will jointly present their recommendations to the interagency panel to be led by the U.S. Department of State that will ultimately submit the U.S. CUE nomination. USDA will also work with EPA staff on the various application assistance teams that are being formed to provide individualized attention to those organizations that request additional support from the Federal government during the application phase of the CUE process. (OPMP Newest News, 7-10-02)
Across the United States, researchers are growing genetically engineered crop plants that produce pharmaceuticals and other chemicals. According to GE Food Alert (http://www.gefoodalert.org/pages/home.cfm), crop plants are being used to produce contraceptives, growth hormones, a blood clotting agent, blood thinners, industrial enzymes, and vaccines. Corn is the plant most commonly used, but soybeans, tobacco, and rice are being tested. Hundreds of open-air trials have reportedly been conducted in the United States. The exact number of tests and products is not available because much of the data is considered to be confidential business information.
This next step in genetic engineering has even greater potential benefits and risks than the currently used herbicide resistant crops or Bt crops (plants that produce an insecticidal protein). Producing drugs or other chemicals in plants is not a new process, but genetic engineering changes everything. Plants could produce compounds that would not be possible with ordinary plant breeding. Biotechnology could provide a cheaper source for drugs or other chemicals. Drug manufacturers could sell medicines that elderly people could afford. Vaccines could be delivered in the diet. Farmers could have a whole new catalog of moneymaking crops. Agriculture and the world could finally move into the utopia we have dreamed of! Read the last sentence with tongue firmly in cheek.
Unfortunately, there is also a frightening downside to this picture. We have
only begun to use our new skills in biotechnology, and at least two unexpected
things have happened. About three years ago, StarLink corn (a Bt corn not
approved for human consumption) accidentally contaminated corn intended for
human food. This corn was discovered in a wide range of products distributed
internationally. The health risk was minimal, but the incident showed that we
cannot always control the flow of corn or other grains. Suppose the corn had
contained some pharmaceutical or other substance that was a risk to human health
. . . In another incident, pollen from Bt corn was discovered to kill the larvae
of monarch butterflies. The actual environmental risk was proven to be quite
small, but no one had predicted what might happen until after Bt corn was
planted on thousands of acres.
There is also some concern about the regulation of genetically engineered crops that are not considered "plant pesticides." The EPA regulates Bt crops and plants that are herbicide-tolerant. There was considerable debate over the Agency's authority, but EPA concluded that pesticides (or tolerance to pesticides) engineered into plants were under EPA jurisdiction. The USDA approves the introduction of any new organism into the United States, but the Department has played a relatively minor role in the regulation of biotechnology thus far. The Food and Drug Administration will also be involved when plants are engineered to produce drugs or other materials for human consumption, but their role is not clear.
Finally, some people are nervous about the containment of these brave, new crops if they are grown in the open air. Wind or insects can transport pollen many miles from the parent crop. It is conceivable that pollen from genetically engineered corn could pollinate other corn intended for food or feed uses.
I am no Luddite, but we should be sure that the science and implementation of biotechnology do not speed far ahead of its regulation. You can find much more information on the Internet. I did a search using these terms: "drugs genetic engineering crops" and found more than 17,000 sites. Stay informed. The field of genetic engineering is beginning to move very quickly, and some of the decisions facing society have tremendous implications.
StarLink corn has been detected in food aid shipments. According to the Bolivian Forum on Environment and Development (FOBOMADE), a sample of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) food aid tested positive for the presence of StarLink genetically engineered corn, a variety not approved for human consumption. The group criticized the USAID and the World Food Program and demanded that genetically engineered crops not be sent as food aid to countries that have not formulated biosafety regulations. They also emphasized the critical need to protect the birthplaces of corn from genetic contamination.
StarLink corn was engineered with genes from Bacillus
thuringiensis to produce an insecticidal protein. Some Bt crops have been
approved for human consumption; StarLink corn was only approved for animal
feed.Unfortunately, all corn looks alike, and some the StarLink corn
contaminated the pile of corn intended for taco shells and other human food
items. (PANUPS, 6-13-02)
Benomyl is officially
cancelled with the revocation of all benomyl tolerances. All benomyl
technical, end use, and special local need product registrations had been
canceled as published in the Federal Register on August 8, 2001. The Agency
expects existing stocks to be exhausted by December 31, 2003. (OPMP Newest
The EPA is registering thiophanate-methyl for some crops as an alternative to benomyl. The Agency recently completed registration for canola; registration for grape, potato, pear, and pistachio are expected to follow. (OPMP Newest News, 7-10-02)
The EPA has granted "reduced risk" status to the miticide acequinocyl for use on field ornamentals, pome fruit, citrus, and almonds. This chemical controls two spotted spider mites, European red mites, and citrus red mites on these crops. The major metabolite of acequinocyl inhibits electron transfer by binding at Complex III in the mitochondria. This is a unique mode of action and the chemical should help with IPM and resistance management. Acequinocyl is also an alternative to an existing B2 carcinogen chemical for these crops. EPA has previously granted acequinocyl reduced risk status for greenhouse ornamentals. (OPMP Newest News, 7-1-02)
The EPA is seeking comments on a guidance document
for the evaluation of low toxicity pesticides and inert ingredients.
In some cases, a substance is the active ingredient in one pesticide but
listed as an inert ingredient in another product. The Agency believes that a
screening methodology is the most efficient and appropriate way to handle the
variety of hazard and exposure issues posed by inert ingredients. The EPA hopes
this new methodology will help them focus resources on evaluating chemical
substances of potentially higher toxicity. Comments must be received by
September 11, 2002. Find more information at http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/cb/csb_page/updates/lowertox.pdf
(EPA Program Update, 6-18-02)
Georgia Clean Day pesticide collection
is scheduled for August 20 at North Metro Tech in Acworth. To participate,
you need to preregister by August 13. You can get more information from the
Bartow County Extension Office (770-387-5143).
Be careful buying (or selling) pesticides over the Internet. As you know, everything (and I do mean everything) is available over the Web. There are an unknown number of sites from which you can purchase pesticides. The EPA is concerned because some of these sites are selling pesticides that were cancelled by EPA for health or environmental problems.Other sites are selling worthless products or making bogus claims.
Web sales create a big problem for regulators because pesticides are regulated in individual states by the state lead agency (in Georgia, it is the Georgia Department of Agriculture). Internet sales often cross state lines, and many states lack the resources to track or regulate these transactions. The EPA plans to tackle the most severe problems directly.
Advice for pesticide buyers: Do not buy pesticides over the Internet unless you are dealing with a local retailer.
Advice for pesticide sellers: Contact your state pesticide regulators to be sure you are in compliance with state and federal laws.
Chlorpyrifos can no longer be legally sold for home uses, but some retailers have not gotten the message. The EPA has discovered 6,000 pounds of chlorpyrifos products being sold for home use in ten states; the Agency expects to find more. Apparently, many smaller retail outlets are not aware that a stop-sale for chlorpyrifos was issued December 31, 2001. (OPMP Newest News, 7-1-02)
The Canadian province of Quebec plans to ban the use of most nonfarm pesticides by 2005. The government will move to immediately ban the use of 30 highly noxious pesticides (I am not sure which ones) on public lands, including parks, schools, day-care centers, and hospitals. The ban will be extended to private lands by 2005. The sale of fertilizer/pesticide combination products will be banned as of next year and added that direct access to more noxious products used at home will be prohibited by 2004. Golf courses will also have to set up plans to cut the use of pesticides by 2005. (Reuters, 7-5-02)
This regulation comes as a result of a decision in the Canadian Supreme Court
that allows cities to ban the use of pesticides in residential areas. Pesticide
companies in the United States dread a similar ruling in the United States
because companies would have to deal with thousands of pesticide laws
established by every city and town across the country. Currently, pesticide
registrants have to comply with regulations established by EPA and by individual
states. In most situations, state and federal pesticide regulations are very
The Degesch America Corporation is introducing a
new phosphine gas generator. The new machine can produce enough
phosphine gas to fumigate large areas in minutes instead of 2-5 days currently
needed for most phosphine products currently in use. The generator is also
reported to reduce the total fumigation time, to give better control of
phosphine concentrations, and to provide greater safety for applicators. You can
get more information at http://www.degeschamerica.com/news/generator.htm
The EPA has completed their revision of the cumulative risk assessment for the organophosphate pesticides. You will find out everything you need to know (and more) at http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/cumulative/ Even though the comment period has closed, we advise you to have a look. There is more regulatory activity to come. Now that the cumulative assessment is complete, the Agency will make decisions based on the cumulative risks.
Thus far, the EPA has grouped the organophosphates, the thiocarbamates/dithiocarbamates, the N-methyl carbamates, and the chloroacetanilides. Only the cumulative assessment of the organophosphates has been completed.
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
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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
Paul Guillebeau, Associate Professor & Extension Entomologist