(Beyond Pesticides, March 15, 2007) In a press release last week, industry group CropLife America (CLA) announced the formation of its Joint Inerts Task Force (JITF), along with another industry leader, the Chemical Producers and Distributors Association (CPDA). JITF’s creation comes in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement that certain pesticide “inert” ingredients will be subject to regulatory action.
EPA’s final rule, published in the Federal Register (71 FR 45415), states, “EPA is revoking 130 inert ingredient tolerance exemptions because insufficient data are available to the agency to make the safety determination required by FFDCA [Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act] section 408(c)(2).” The rule is slated to go into full effect August 9, 2008.
JITF is designed to respond to data gaps that might result in the revocation of some or all of those 130 inert ingredients. JITF currently consists of 29 companies, not necessarily all of which are members of CLA or CPDA, but all of which must prove that they are registrants or inert ingredient suppliers.
Information on JITF’s work available to interested parties outside of these qualifications is extremely limited. As Ray McAllister, CLA regulatory and policy leader said in a recent press release, “This task force will allow the industry to work together to provide necessary data to the EPA, ultimately satisfying tolerance exemption requirements,” and, as this statement implies, ensures industry’s continued ability to manufacture these inerts without disclosing them to the public.
Mr. McAllister continues, “The EPA recognizes the value of a joint effort approach to providing the necessary data.” EPA’s notice is consistent with this statement, saying, “EPA continues to offer to work with industry to clarify whether testing certain chemicals within a multi-chemical tolerance exemption will suffice rather than testing each chemical in the group . . . EPA is pleased to report that numerous companies have already consulted with the agency, and more meetings have been scheduled for the near future.”
The formation of JITF comes in contrast to non-industry responses to the August EPA notice. A coalition of health, safety, and environmental organizations filed a petition that month, requesting the disclosure of so-called “trade-secret” inert ingredients in farm and household products. Inert ingredients are not listed on product labels even though they often constitute 99% of a product, and are potentially hazardous to public health and the environment. Fourteen state and U.S. Virgin Islands attorneys general agreed and submitted a corresponding petition to EPA. As Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said at the time, “The EPA is inexplicably misleading the public — allowing hazardous substances in pesticides to be identified simply as ”˜inert’.”
TAKE ACTION: Tell EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson (email: email@example.com, phone: 202-564-4700, fax: 202-501-1450) that you have a right to know what ingredients are used in pesticide products and that EPA has a duty to fully test pesticide formulations.