EPA Considers Treated Seed Rulemaking

Federal Court Allows Ag Companies to Intervene in Treated-Seed Lawsuit

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Environmental Editor
Connect with Todd:
The EPA this week launched an advanced notice of rulemaking on possible regulation of pesticide-treated seed. (DTN file photo by Pam Smith)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- EPA is asking for public input on whether pesticide-treated seed should be regulated and, if so, to what extent, via an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking Thursday.

The announcement comes on the same week the U.S. District Court for the District of Northern California granted a motion to intervene in a Center for Food Safety and Pesticide Action Network North America lawsuit trying to force EPA to regulate treated seeds.

The court has allowed CropLife America, American Seed Trade Association, Agricultural Retailers Association, American Soybean Association, National Cotton Council of America, National Corn Growers Association, and National Association of Wheat Growers to intervene on EPA's behalf.

Comments from the public may be entered here: Docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2023-0420 at www.regulations.gov for the next 60 days.

The three major members of the neonicotinoids class are imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, registered by EPA in 1994, 2000 and 2003, respectively.

Bayer and Syngenta are two of the largest producers of pesticide-coated seed treatments in the U.S.

EPA said in its advanced notice of proposed rulemaking it is "looking to better understand" whether or to what extent seeds treated with pesticides should be regulated. The notice also calls for information on the use of pesticides in paints.

The EPA is opening a 60-day public comment period.

Pesticide-treated seed currently is exempt from registration requirements under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

EPA requires registration of the pesticide that is used to treat seeds.

"However, states and other stakeholders have raised questions about the clarity and enforceability of instructions specifically relating to use of the treated seed products (i.e., instructions relating to the storage, planting, and management of the treated seed)," the agency said in a news release.

In April 2017, the Center for Food Safety filed a petition with EPA that asked the agency to interpret or amend the treated article exemption so as to not exempt seeds treated with pesticides.

EPA denied the petition in September 2022 but announced its intent to issue the latest notice.

The agency is seeking comment on a number of issues, including how growers manage treated-seed products, and the extent of the use of the products in the U.S.

In addition, the agency wants to know to what extent treated-seed products are being distributed, sold, and used contrary to label instructions, among other things.

In the ongoing lawsuit, the agriculture companies allowed to intervene said in their motion filed in September 2023 that additional regulation would harm the industry.

"In addition to these significant economic hardships, the relief plaintiffs seek would also impose new, unnecessary regulatory burdens on those members who produce, sell and grow crops from seed," the motion said.

"Plaintiffs' claims threaten to introduce new regulatory uncertainty and suppress ongoing pesticide product advances, harming not only proposed intervenors' members, but also downstream consumers who depend on an abundant and affordable supply of food, feed and fiber. Plaintiffs' requested relief would also subject proposed intervenors' members to needlessly burdensome and duplicative regulation."

In related news, seeds treated with neonicotinoids are also at the center of environmental contamination being cleaned up by seed companies at a former ethanol plant in Mead, Nebraska, a town of 569 residents about 40 miles north of Lincoln.

Read more on DTN:

"Lawsuit Targets EPA Treated-Seed Regs," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

"EPA Rejects 2017 Treated-Seed Petition," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

"Seed Companies Volunteer to Clean Up Mead," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

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

Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @DTNeeley

Todd Neeley

Todd Neeley
Connect with Todd: