State and federal agencies are warning organic farmers against the use of pesticides labeled as W.O.W Whack Out Weeds! and EcoMight-Pro distributed by EcoMIGHT, as lab tests show that these products labeled as organic, natural and glyphosate-free do in fact contain potentially hazardous chemicals.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has issued a notice to EcoMIGHT, LLC, a Florida-based company, that it may be in violation of state law by manufacturing, delivering or selling unregistered pesticide products in California. The state Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) issued a Stop Use Notice for organic growers about EcoMIGHT products.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also notified EcoMIGHT that it may be in violation of federal law.
EcoMIGHT currently markets its products as "organic," "natural," "glyphosate-free," and "non-toxic and safe." However, state laboratory analyses of W.O.W. Whack Out Weeds! and EcoMight-Pro products sold in California found that the products tested contain potentially hazardous chemicals including glyphosate, bifenthrin, permethrin, cypermethrin, and carbaryl, officials said.
California registered pesticides that contain these chemicals go through scientific review and have specific requirements for use and personal protective equipment that protect workers, communities and the environment from harmful pesticide exposure. W.O.W Whack Out Weeds! and EcoMight-Pro do not contain these safety instructions.
"It is critical that we notify California employers, workers and residents, who may be using EcoMIGHT products about these safety concerns to prevent potential injury," said DPR acting director Julie Henderson. "This includes ensuring pesticides are properly registered and labeled so you know if you are handling benign ingredients or need to use protective equipment – like gloves, goggles or respirators."
EcoMIGHT's website was down on Monday, Aug. 2. A message told visitors that the site was undergoing maintenance and would return soon.
A search engine description of the site reads: "Kills all vegetation. Safe for Kids and Pets*. Organic. No Toxic Chemicals. Does Not Stain. No Re-Entry Period. The minimum amount of time after an application that people can go into that area without protective clothing and equipment. Sticker & Adjuvant Not Needed. Everything is built in!"
However, the synthetic chemical compounds CDFA laboratory analysis found in W.O.W. Whack Out Weeds! and EcoMight-Pro products are prohibited for use in organic production by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program.
Additionally, these products pose a public health risk because the products were found to contain hazardous chemicals not disclosed on their labels, regulators warn.
"It is imperative that we alert California organic growers that these EcoMIGHT products contain substances that are prohibited in organic production, in order to preserve the integrity of the California organic label and to protect our growers," said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross.
DPR and CDFA investigations began in San Diego and Ventura Counties in June 2021, when local County Agricultural Commissioners alerted state agency partners of a potential concern with the EcoMIGHT products. CDFA's Sacramento lab analyzed samples and DPR, CDFA and additional state and federal regulators are reviewing the lab analyses for potential state and federal violations.
In addition to actions taken by California state agencies, U.S. EPA notified EcoMIGHT that it may be in violation of federal law by manufacturing, distributing or selling unregistered pesticide products.
As part of its enforcement of the law, the EPA registers pesticide products and approves label language before a pesticide can be sold or distributed.
If you are aware of illegal pesticide use or concerned about potential illness from pesticide exposure, officials urge that you report your concerns immediately to 1-87PestLine (1-877-378-5463), anonymously report using DPR's mobile app CASPIR or reach out directly to your county agricultural commissioner.