There’s been a flurry of agricultural chemical regulatory development this week. These include:
* A January 11 decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to register Enlist and Enlist Duo herbicides for seven-year registrations for over-the-top use on herbicide-tolerant soybeans, corn, and cotton. This month saw the expiration of five-year registrations for 2,4-D-choline-based herbicides. Enlist is the active ingredient 2,4–D choline. Enlist Duo is a premix that contains both 2,4–D choline & glyphosate.
Agricultural organizations supported the decision. “Enlist is a vital tool for soybean growers to protect their crops from damaging weeds and maintain important conservation practices,” said Brad Doyle, American Soybean Association (ASA) president in an ASA news release. “While we are cautious with reports of new restrictions on Enlist and will be carefully reviewing the registration in the days ahead to determine its impact on growers, a new registration for Enlist is a welcome announcement.”
The new registration contains several new Endangered Species Act restrictions that are aimed primarily at mitigating runoff, and protecting pollinator risk. The registration also includes prohibitions on using Enlist or Enlist Duo in certain counties where federal regulators deem ESA risks are significant.
South Dakota farmers, for example, will not be allowed to Enlist in the southcentral and southwest counties of:
* Charles Mix
Minnesota farmers won’t be able apply Enlist Duo to the northwestern counties of Minnesota
Further south, Minnesota farmers won’t be able apply Enlist Duo to the counties of:
Corteva officials say the amendment process included EPA conducting updated data analyses and initiating appropriate agency consultations to help confirm Enlist herbicides continue to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). EPA updated its ecological, ESA risk assessments. This resulted in the addition of targeted risk mitigation steps to the Enlist and EnlistDuo herbicide labels. The updates will ensure that Enlist herbicides are used in accordance to the label to protect endangered species and their habitats, as well as allowing growers to continue to reap the benefits of Enlist’s weed control system.
ESA and Pesticide Active Ingredients
The EPA also announced that it will immediately revise all of its ESA processes regarding pesticide active ingredients (AI) this week. Officials from the EPA claim that the reform will incorporate ESA assessments as well as any mitigations necessary to protect species and critical habitats at the beginning of registration.
According to EPA officials, EPA did not assess the potential pesticide effects on listed species prior to this announcement. Officials add that this led to insufficient protections for listed species from new AIs, as well as costly litigation against EPA for registering AIs before assessing the potential effects on species. EPA’s new policy should reduce these types of cases against the Agency and improve the legal defensibility of new AIs, which often have lower human health and ecological risks than older pesticides, they added.
“Incorporating ESA assessments into the registration process for new pesticides is a key component of EPA’s larger effort to meet the Agency’s ESA obligations efficiently and effectively,” said Ya-Wei (Jake) Li, EPA office of chemical safety and pollution prevention deputy assistant administrator for pesticide programs, in an EPA news release. “I look forward to seeing the positive impact of this new approach and working on additional improvements that are both beneficial for species and fair to pesticide registrants.”
Officials at the ASA say that soybean growers believe this will increase the legal defenseability of pesticide registration decisions. These decisions have been under intense court pressure because they are not in compliance with ESA.
ASA remains concerned about how ESA revisions affect commonly used agricultural chemistry. Last November, the EPA issued endangered-species biological evaluations. These could increase the species or habitats that are EPA believes are negatively impacted by commonly applied agricultural chemicals like simazine, atrazine and glyphosate.
The message coming from EPA is that these products are harmful to endangered species, which simply is not true when they are realistically used,” said Kevin Scott, ASA chairman. “The agency’s decision is based on faulty science that used unbelievable and inaccurate product usage rates. Glyphosate and no-till are enabling farmers to grow amazing crops in areas like the western part of South Dakota. Our production will drop if we have to stop using these products. We will push back hard on this issue.”
Source: Successful Farming