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Treated Seeds Focus of Push for New EPA Regulations 

Pesticides are regulated in the United States by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In regulating, they must consider multiple different sections of law, with the primary being the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Section 152.25 of FIFRA lists “exceptions for pesticides of a character not requiring FIFRA regulation.” Treated articles or substances are the first items in the list of exceptions. Therefore, seed treatment has not been regulated to the same degree.  

In April of 2017, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) petitioned that the EPA release a formal statement saying that they interpret this list of exceptions not to apply to pesticides intended to kill pests of the plant instead of pests of the seed itself (such as neonicotinoids). The petition further asked that they amplify their enforcement of neonicotinoid requirements. 

In response to the petition, the EPA said that they would seek more information about the uses of treated seed and could consider releasing a new rule to regulate the use of treated seed products. They are asking for the public to weigh in on their use of treated seed products, and are especially hoping for information about the following questions: 

  1. Effectiveness of instructions on treated seed product labeling (e.g., on the seed bag tags) to mitigate potential risks. 
  1. Use, usage, and tracking of treated seed products. 
  1. Management of spilled or excess treated seed. 
  1. Treated paint; and 
  1. Administrative action, amendment of the treated article exemption, and/or FIFRA section 3(a) Rule. 

Further clarification can be found at the federal register page for the issue. If someone wishes to submit a comment, they can do so by going to the issue’s federal register page and clicking on the green “SUBMIT A FORMAL COMMENT” button near the top of the page.  

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