May 16, 2003
Public Information and Records Integrity Branch
Dear Sir or Madam:
Although easing the paperwork burden on regulated parties is an admirable goal, careful attention must be paid to prevent future abuses of the emergency exemption program that may be made possible by this program, such as:
1) Continued exemptions may be given to “non-emergency” situations. With application burdens eased, it will become easier to reapply without proof of an ongoing “emergency,” applicants must not become dependant on these temporary exemptions to provide long-term pest relief.
2) Reduced Risk pesticides may still pose a risk to humans, non-humans and/or the larger ecosystem. Specific language must be include in this program to ensure that the “reduced risk pesticides” will pose a risk less than registered alternatives.
According to EPA a reduced risk pesticide is defined as one that "may reasonably be expected to accomplish one or more of the following" :
Use of the Section 18 Program for Pest Resistance Management Research
This program has a long history of enabling the dependence on toxic chemicals to aid farmers. It is imperative that all changes proposed to this program require significant attention be paid to the possibility of non-chemical alternatives. With the raise of the organics industry, massive advancements have been made in non-chemical crop science and the use of physical and biological options to help control pests. If this program is used to test pest resistance, equal effort should be made to test the efficacy and economics of using new and old non-chemical alternatives in large-scale conventional agriculture. The use of non-chemical alternatives in addition to or in place of traditional pest management strategies can be successful implemented to reduce pest resistance and slow the progress of existing resistance problems.
Pest resistance studies must be carried out in a scientific manor. If the Section 18 program is to be uses to study pest resistance, it must do so under the guidance of trained professionals and monitored under the current extension service. Also, there must be an emphasis on non-chemical alternatives in the fight against resistance, both with new chemicals and old. Also the provision of using only “reduced risk” chemicals must be maintained throughout the program. If this program is not properly designed and maintained it has the potential to increase resistance problems, rather then reduce them by exposing pests to a wider variety of chemical pesticides.
Impacts on Stakeholders
The Federal Register notice clearly neglects non-applicant stakeholders.
No action concerning the application of pesticides, especially those that are not registered effect only the “applicants”. Everyone from farmers to potentially effected wildlife can affected by any changes. This so-called reduction in paperwork could very easily provide yet another loophole for emergency exemptions that last beyond any reasonable definition of an “emergency.” This narrow definition of “effected stakeholder” must be broadened.
The proposed pilot program does not provide for adequate public participation
in the decision to allow the application of unregistered pesticides. Many
of these applications are chemicals with inadequate safety data and many
of the applications are on food. It is imperative that EPA include in
the process a protocol for timely public announcement of applications
and the opportunity for participation.
There is already a great lack of follow-through within the section 18
program. Many applications are renewed year after year, with inadequate
consideration of non-chemical options to solve what is a reoccurring problem,
not and emergency. It is inappropriate to make reoccurring 18’s
easier to get, and maintain.
In conclusion, pesticide usage is increasing at the same time that loss to pests in farming is increasing. This program is an ideal opportunity to promote alternatives including changes in farming practices, biologicals, and other non-chemical practices.
The environment in an extremely dynamic place, to rely on static practices that do not adapt, will in all cases, eventually become less effective. This change does not necessarily constitute an emergency. It is imperative for the program to look closer at the definition of an emergency and how long many of these so-called emergencies last. The pilot program must include a concerted effort by the applicant to move toward a truly integrated system of pest control, before they can be approved for the reduced paperwork load.
The goal of the changes to the section 18 program must include an emphasis
to end the need to use non-registered pesticides. This can be accomplished
in several ways, but all plans must included the ability to change with
the environment and pest pressures and how to deal with “true”
emergencies, when similar situations emerge in the future.