The National Cotton Council is tracking more than 33 agricultural product issues at the EPA, including several pollinator exposure concerns and ongoing discussions regarding the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide and the Endangered Species Act (FIFRA).
And NCC sees little change in EPA in this administration. “We do not see any drastic change in pesticide registration or re-registration in this administration from the last administration,” says Don Parker, National Cotton Council integrated pest management manager.
Parker will discuss product registration at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences Jan. 8-10 in New Orleans.
“The Council is watching as the EPA looks at several products, including pyrethroids and organophosphates,” Parker says.
Particular products on EPA’s radar are acephate, malathion, Bidrin and defoliants. “Registration challenges have become more intense,” Parker says. “Some products we have used for 40 years, and we still have new challenges on re-registration.”
Enhanced interest in pollinators drives much of the intensified interest. “EPA is looking at new guidelines on pollinator risk assessments,” he says. “We see more instances of an assumption that pollinators will be exposed to a product. They are not looking at the chances of exposure but concluding that they will be exposed.”
Parker says the Council has been working on pollinator issues since 2009. “The issue continues to grow. Many environmental groups are trying to change the discussion to natural pollinators and to invoke consultation requirements of the Endangered Species Act.
“The consultation process requires EPA to obtain an agreement of no harm to endangered species through a biological opinion of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services) jointly.”
He says some of these registration and registration review challenges come from “new science recently published, including epidemiology studies that do not seem to reflect 40 years of EPA Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) required studies. But EPA is giving enough validity to these studies to change human health risk assessments.”
EPA is altering components of the risk assessments in response to multiple lawsuits. “A big part of the issue is the problem of the legal conflict between the Endangered Species Act and FIFRA.
“Our biggest concern remains how EPA and the Services will come up with a solution to the conflict between FIFRA and the Endangered Species Act.”
Working for years
He says the EPA and the Services have been working for years to find a means to comply with both laws. “But they have not been able to agree on anything yet.”
As long as that issue remains unresolved, Parker says, “it jeopardizes all pesticide products, and opens up avenues to litigate against EPA. We could see cancelation of products currently registered.”
He mentions two products, chlorpyrifos and sulfoxaflor, as court case examples. An August ruling would ban the use of chlorpyrifos, and a 2016 ruling forced EPA to register sulfoxaflor “on a limited basis.”
Parker will expand on these and other product registration issues during the Beltwide Cotton Conferences presentation.