EPA Rejects 2017 Pesticides Petition

EPA Turns Away Environmental Groups' Petition on Regulating Pesticide Mixtures

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Environmental Editor
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The EPA last week issued a decision on a 2017 pesticide petition to regulate pesticide mixtures. (DTN file photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- The EPA rejected a 2017 petition last week from environmental groups that asked the federal agency to require testing and data on whole pesticide formulations and mixtures rather than just active ingredients.

Groups led by the Center for Food Safety also asked the EPA to consider the effects pesticide formulations and mixtures allegedly have on endangered and threatened species.

The original petition requested the EPA to account for the potential toxicological effects of inert ingredients and additives in the testing of tank mixes. EPA was required by a court as part of a legal settlement to act on the 6-year-old petition.

The EPA explained its reasoning in a Sept. 29 letter to the CFS.

"EPA explains in its response to the petition that the agency appropriately assesses, as part of its review, the impacts on human health and the environment and why the additional testing that the petition seeks would not in general provide a better picture of the risks of a pesticide product," the agency said in its letter.

"These assessments evaluate relevant exposure routes for the pesticide(s) and the acute and chronic toxicity data EPA currently receives are sufficient for evaluating the potential risk from the registered use of a pesticide product."

In October 2022, CFS, Californians for Pesticide Reform, the Center for Environmental Health and the Pesticide Action Network of North America sued EPA to force a decision.

The groups have advocated for the EPA to make the regulation change based on claims that research shows that when pesticides combine active and inert ingredients, the mixture can increase pesticide toxicity, ecotoxicity and human exposure.

"Disappointingly, EPA doubled down on ignoring the hazards of actual pesticide formulations sprayed in the real world by instead only regulating what the pesticide companies consider 'active' ingredients," said Sylvia Wu, senior attorney at CFS and an attorney trying the case. "It's an irresponsible and unlawful decision that leaves farming communities and endangered species unprotected from exposure to different pesticide formulations and mixtures."

In 2017, the EPA's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) called on the agency to improve its oversight of pesticides by requiring and assessing information on chemical mixtures.

The OIG said in a report that data on mixture interactions was important because it allows EPA to better assess human health and risks to the environment.

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

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Todd Neeley

Todd Neeley
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