The University of Georgia
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Georgia Pest management Newsletter

Your source for pest management and pesticide news

March, 2000/Volume 23, No. 3


IPM IN SCHOOLS

Thanks to a grant from EPA, the IPM in Schools project has a bright future.
The U.S. Government Accounting Office has released a report on pesticide use in schools.

FEDERAL NEWS

The EPA has released their report on the Consumer Labeling Initiative (CLI).

FOOD QUALITY PROTECTION ACT

There are always two sides to every debate; perhaps FQPA implementation is bad for human health.
The EPA held a stakeholder meeting in Tifton, Georgia, for acephate users last week.
According to Pesticide & Toxic Chemical News (3-9-00), the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs is planning a very busy year with the organophosphates.
New Congressional bills and the presidential election are likely to affect implementation of FQPA.
Have you ever wondered what happened to all of the FQPA consumer brochures that EPA was required to develop and distribute to grocery stores?

WPS NOTEBOOK

The government's General Accounting Office is not happy with the way EPA has enforced the Worker Protection Standard.

HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT

The USDA plans to establish regulation for four categories of products that can be labeled "organic."
Mosquito control agencies are facing an almost impossible challenge of controlling mosquitoes and assuaging public fears about pesticide risks.
According to the American Mosquito Control Association, FQPA decisions may help mosquitoes with a major comeback.
The EPA has released their latest report on U.S. pesticide sales and usage.
In our rush to condemn all pesticides, we should be careful with restrictions of disinfectants, because natural products do not seem to work well.

BIOTECHNOLOGY

Rules and regulations for genetically modified foods are coming from every direction.
No matter what regulations are made for genetically modified foods, the market will drive the future.
Terrorist attacks are also part of the opposition to genetically engineered foods.

CANCELED

At the request of the registrant, the EPA will cancel all bendiocarb products over the next two years.


IPM in Schools

Thanks to a grant from EPA, the IPM in Schools project has a bright future. Most of the money will be used to hire someone to work with schools individually to minimize pesticide risk. [If you know a good candidate for this position, contact me.] Group workshops have been useful for introducing IPM concepts, but repeated on-site visits will be necessary to schools to implement IPM. Our idea is to establish pilot schools in each of Georgia's school RESA districts. The schools within a particular RESA meet periodically to discuss ideas and events. We think this will be the best way to spread IPM throughout Georgia schools.

Additionally, the pesticide risk evaluation instrument (developed by Gretchen Van De Mark and me) is receiving a lot of attention. We are sharing the instrument with neighboring states; the EPA regional office and national headquarters have requested copies, and a county extension agent plans to take the IPM risk assessment on an upcoming trip to Brazil.

The U.S. Government Accounting Office has released a report on pesticide use in schools. The report states that there is little information about pesticide use in schools or illnesses that may be related to pesticide exposure in schools. (EPA Regon IV Alphabet Soup, 2-00) I imagine that this report will lead to some kind of legislation. We are going to be glad we were proactive regarding IPM in schools.

Federal News

The EPA has released their report on the Consumer Labeling Initiative (CLI). The initiative was intended to reduce pesticide risks by improving pesticide labels on household pesticides. Pesticide labels for this market are often ambiguous, with language such as "use as needed" or "apply thoroughly." Consumers were frequently applying more pesticide than they really needed, because labels required too much interpretation. (Pestic. & Tox. Chem. News, 1-6-00)

The report does not call for any dramatic label changes, but some improvements are expected to make pesticide labels easier to read and understand. For example, "It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling" may be replaced with "Use this pesticide only as directed on the label."

Hallelujah! Most of the time, I'm more concerned about the environmental and human health risks associated with household pesticide use than I am about agricultural pesticides. There are many more household pesticide users, and we have little opportunity to train them in the proper use of pesticides.

Some public action groups were also calling for full disclosure of all the inert ingredients in household pesticides, but identification of inerts is unlikely. According to the agency report, full disclosure will not make consumers use products more wisely.

Food Quality Protection Act

There are always two sides to every debate; perhaps FQPA implementation is bad for human health. According to a Harvard University study, a ban on organophosphates and carbamates could result in 1,000 premature deaths in the United States each year. The Harvard study (and others) points out that food risks associated wtih organophosphate/carbamate residues on food are small to nonexistant. The deaths would be associated with increased food costs and the concomitant reduction in fruits and vegetables. (American Farm Bureau News Release, 11-22-99, via Pesticide Broadcast, 2-00)

The EPA held a stakeholder meeting in Tifton, Georgia, for acephate users last week. EPA staff discussed their risk estimates and explained how they arrive at their conclusions. Afterward, attendees from Florida to California presented information and concerns about acephate.

I left the meeting with two important observations. First, the Special Review and Reregistration Division (SRRD) seems committed to applying the established process to reach FQPA decisions. That's good news. The current process lasts about 11 months, which provides adequate time for reasoned discussion and input from all concerned parties. However, EPA administrators are much more sensitive to politics, and they can short-circuit the process. Politics were largely responsible for the abbreviated process that greatly restricted methyl parathion and azinphos-methyl unexpectedly. We need to make it clear to our policy-makers and pesticide registrants that we want them to follow the entire process.

My second observation was a little more troubling (you may need to read the note below to understand). We asked EPA when pesticide benefits became part fo the decision-making process. The EPA reponded that benefits would not be carefully considered until risk mitigation options were being evaluated. I am concerned that EPA may face pressure to make decisions quickly once the risk mitigation options are on the table. There may not be time to gather the benefits information necessary to make a balanced decision. Keep in mind that the NAPIAP program (a nationwide network to gather pesticide information) has been effectively discontinued.

Note: In the ongoing re-assessment of pesticide risks, two different laws come into play. Dietary risks and non-occupational exposures are regulated under FQPA, which requires little or no consideration of pesticide benefits. However, worker risks and environmental risks are regulated under FIFRA (Federal Fungicide, Insecticide, and Rodenticide Act). FIFRA requires EPA to make regulatory decisions based upon both the pesticide risks and the pesticide's benefits.

There is still time for you to comment on the EPA assessment of acephate risks. You can see the revised assessment at the EPA web site: www.epa.gov/pesticides

According to Pesticide & Toxic Chemical News (3-9-00), the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs is planning a very busy year with the organophosphates. The principal goal is completion of risk assessments for all 39 organophosphates. The Division Director predicted "many significant actions on individual chemicals" with "worker risks front and center."

Decisions concerning chlorpyrifos are on the way, and there are indications there will be "significant actions" taken on the widely used pesticide. Chlorpyrifos has more than 800 registered uses ranging from agriculture to home uses. Scores of commercial and home-use products have this active ingredient.

New Congressional bills and the presidential election are likely to affect implementation of FQPA. The Regulatory Fairness and Openness Act (HR 1592) is intended to ensure the use of "sound science" in FQPA and to provide a reasonable transition for producers that lose important pesticides. The bill has more than 200 sponsors in the House. A similar bill with 30 sponsors is circulating in the Senate. Also, keep in mind that the head of EPA (Carol Browner) is a political appointee, and she has tremendous influence on what happens (or doesn't happen) in EPA. If Gore is elected, Browner is likely to remain at the EPA helm. If Bush becomes president, Browner will be replaced, and FQPA implementation may change substantially. In either case, I would be surprised to see any big FQPA decisions until after the election. Gore will not want to upset agriculture or pesticide activists.

Have you ever wondered what happened to all of the FQPA consumer brochures EPA was required to develop and distribute to grocery stores? It seems that FQPA did not require stores to display them. Only 3 percent of grocery stores ordered more copies (they probably found out the brochures were good liners for flower pots). I expect that most stores placed their FQPA brochures in the big, green display boxes in the back of the store. In spite of these setbacks, however, the EPA will soon produce the same brochure in Spanish. (FQPA Spotlight, via Chemically Speaking, 2-00).

WPS Notebook

The government's General Accounting Office is not happy with the way the EPA has enforced the Worker Protection Standard. An upcoming report is expected to say that there is a serious lack of national consistency in WPS enforcement and the EPA enforcement is not adequately protecting farm workers. (Pestic. & Tox. Chem. News, 3-9-00)

Before you grin about GAO criticism of EPA, think of the consequences of the bad report. The EPA will certainly step up enforcement of WPS. Until now, the Georgia Department of Agriculture (pesticide enforcement for Georgia) has been reluctant to fine producers for WPS violations. The GAO report may change their point of view. Additionally, a report of lax WPS enforcement will make some attorneys think about lawsuits.

In any case, get ready for WPS all over again. If your workers have not been trained in five years, they need to be trained. If you don't have a central posting location for pesticide information, make one. If you have not been providing WPS decontamination stations, you had better start. Contact your local extension office for assistance. We can provide training materials in English/Spanish and advice about WPS compliance for your operation.

Health and the Environment

The USDA plans to establish regulations for four categories of products that can be labeled "organic":

  1. Products with 100 percent organic ingredients may be labeled to advertise that fact.
  2. Products with at least 95 percent organic ingredients may be labeled "organic."
  3. Products with at least 50 percent organic ingredients may be labeled "made with organic ingredients."
  4. Products with less than 50 percent organic ingredients may only use the word "organic" in the ingredient panel.

(Pestic. & Tox. Chem. News, 3-9-00)

Mosquito control agencies are facing an almost impossible challenge of controlling mosquitoes and assuaging public fears about pesticide risks. Managing populations of adult mosquitoes almost always requires application of a synthetic pesticide, often an organophosphate, near water. Disease outbreaks, such as West Nile Virus, may require pesticide application in or around public areas. (Pestic. & Tox. Chem. News, 3-9-00)

Here is a case where both alternatives carry risks. Widespread application of pesticides could certainly have implications for both human and environmental health. On the other hand, uncontrolled outbreaks of mosquito borne diseases could result directly in human deaths.

The key to resolving this problem will be effective communication between mosquito control experts and the public. Currently, it is impossible to manage mosquito populations without periodic applications of pesticide. The public will have to be willing to understand the risk tradeoffs in both cases to establish effective public policy.

According to the American Mosquito Control Association, FQPA decisions may help mosquitoes with a major comeback. The current IPM approach to mosquito control works because a number of effective insecticides are available when they are needed. Political and economic decisions driven by FQPA could greatly reduce the pesticides available for mosquito management. (FQPA Spotlight, via Chemically Speaking, 2-00)

The EPA has released their latest report on U.S. pesticide sales and usage. Quick: What pesticide is used the most (by far)? [Answer at the end of this article.]

We used about 4.6 billion pounds of pesticide active ingredients in 1997. About 1 billion pounds was "conventional pesticides," wood preservatives, biocides, and things like sulfur; the 1 billion pound total was similar to the 1995 total (0.97 billion pounds of active ingredient). Atrazine (an herbicide) was the top pesticide for agriculture; 2,4D was the leading non-ag pesticide.

In 1997, there were 18 major pesticide makers (and 100 smaller companies) in a $12 billion industry. About 1 million farms and 74 million households used pesticides. There were plenty of choices available, with nearly 900 active ingredients in approximately 21,000 products. The United States has about 1.25 million certified pesticide applicators.

If you want to read the complete report, hit the web: www.epa.gov/oppbead1/pestsales

Or order a copy from EPA -- 513-489-8190.

[Answer: Chlorine/hypochlorites (used to purify water and keep swimming pools safe) accounted for nearly 2.5 billion pounds of the pesticide used in the United States in 1997.]

In our rush to condemn all pesticides, we should be careful with restrictions of disinfectants, because natural products do not seem to work very well. Vinegar was effective against some bacteria, but baking soda failed every test. On the other hand, currently available household disinfectants (they tested Clorox Bleach, Lysol Disinfectant Spray, Lysol Antibacterial Kitchen Cleaner, and Mr. Clean Ultra) demonstrated "excellent activity" against pathogenic bacteria commonly found in homes. (Pestic. & Tox. Chem. News, 1-10-00)

Many household cleaners do also pose some human health risks. Use them with adequate ventilation, follow the label directions, and store them away from children. NEVER mix ammonia products and bleach products; the combination produces a dangerous gas.

Biotechnology

Rules and regulations for genetically modified foods are coming from every direction. The USDA will prohibit genetically engineered foods from being labeled "organic." I am somewhat concerned about this ruling because I'm afraid we will end up with too many categories, e.g., "organic," "organic genetically modified foods," "foods produced without pesticides," etc. If consumers become confused, the label "organic" may have little value. I think USDA should not impose a blanket restriction on genetically modified foods. Although some genetically modified foods may carry some type of risk, there will undoubtedly be many genetically modified foods that offer great improvements in vitamins, taste, fat content, etc.

A number of states -- including Maine, Minnesota, California, Mississippi, Nebraska and Maryland -- are discussing laws that would require labeling or other restrictions of genetically modified foods. (Pestic. & Tox. Chem. News, 3-2-00) The introduction of federal legislation is expected soon.

Internationally, 134 countries have reached an agreement to label shipments of seed and raw agricultural commodities. The shipments will be labeled to indicate that the product "may contain" living GMO (genetically modified organisms). The agreement would take effect if it is ratified by 50 nations, an action that may take two years. (Pestic. & Tox. Chem. News, 2-3-00)

No matter what regulations are made for genetically modified foods, the market will drive the future. The Frito-Lay Company will no longer accept genetically modified corn for any of their products. [Interestingly, this article did no mention genetically modified potatoes or soybean oil from genetically modified plants; I don't know what that means.] The company cites consumer concerns regarding genetically engineered products. Several baby food companies, including Gerber and Heinz, have made similar announcements.

Terrorist attacks are also part of the opposition to genetically engineered foods. A group set fire to a university building in Michigan and caused $400,000 worth of damage. The group also claims responsibility for several other fires aimed at biotechnology and genetically engineered foods. In addition to Michigan, terrorists have attacked UC Davis, the University of Maine, the University of Washington, Michigan State University, Washington State University, and several private research facilities and offices. (Pesticide Notes, Jan-Feb, 2000)

I do not understand this type of behavior at all or how these groups expect to achieve their aims. Maybe we can figure out a way to take their genes out of the gene pool for the next generation.

Canceled

At the request of the registrant, the EPA will cancel all bendiocarb products over the next two years.

Cancellation Date Product
June 30 Bendiocarb technical
October 31 home products
December 31, 2001 all other bendiocarb products
(FR, 2-2-00)

The appearance of any trade name in this newsletter is not intended to endorse that product not 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.

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Department of Entomology
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
email: pguillebeau@bugs.ent.uga.edu

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http://www.ces.uga.edu/ces/wnews.html

Sincerely,

Paul Guillebeau, Assistant Professor and Extension Entomologist