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Daily News Blog

04
Oct

Tell EPA and Congress to Protect the Integrity of Minimum Risk Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2021) Recent findings of high levels of toxic pesticides in products permitted to be used as “minimum risk pesticides” (terminology used for essentially nontoxic) point to the need for greater oversight of these products and more severe penalties for violations. Pesticides classified as minimum risk are allowed under Section 25(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) [40 CFR 152.25(f)] to be used without going through EPA’s pesticide registration process. These products are limited to a specific list of ingredients, and all ingredients, including “inert” ingredients, are required to be listed on the label. 

Minimum risk pesticides are used by organic growers, municipalities, and others who are not permitted to use, or choose to avoid, toxic chemicals. 

Tell EPA and Congress to protect the integrity of minimum risk pesticides.

Organic growers can lose their organic certification if they apply materials that are prohibited, which include the toxic ingredients glyphosate, bifenthrin, permethrin, cypermethrin, and carbaryl, found by the state of California in dangerous and misbranded Eco-MIGHT and W.O.W. (Whack Out Weeds!) products, falsely labeled as 25(b) minimum risk. Contamination of these products came to light in late July, when the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) State Organic Program issued a Stop Use Notice to farmers, alerting them to adulteration of Eco-MIGHT and W.O.W products. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (the state’s primary enforcement agent for pesticides) sent a warning letter to EcoMIGHT LLC, which produces both of the products in question, alerting them that they “may be in violation” of state law. EPA sent a similar advisory letter to the company indicating that it may be in violation of FIFRA by misbranding, selling an unregistered pesticide (given the presence of ingredients disallowed in 25(b) minimum risk products), and false and misleading label statements, which could make the company “subject to penalties of not more than $7,500 for each independently assessable violation.”

While these warning letters may be the first step in criminal enforcement action, they are inadequate to protect the organic farmers and other users who depend on the integrity of the products as represented by the company. The process for action is slow, the initial penalties are inconsequential, and real people will be hurt as a result. 

EPA must initiate better oversight over the manufacture and sale of minimum risk pesticides. It must take immediate action to stop sale of products misbranded as minimum risk pesticides. There must be real penalties—severe enough to incentivize against fraudulent practices—assessed against violators.

Tell EPA and Congress to protect the integrity of minimum risk pesticides.

Letter to U.S. Congress

Recent findings of high levels of toxic pesticides in products permitted to be used as “minimum risk pesticides” point to the need for greater oversight of these products and more severe penalties for violations. Pesticides classified as minimum risk are allowed under Section 25(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) [40 CFR 152.25(f)] to be used without going through EPA’s pesticide registration process. These products are limited to a specific list of ingredients, and all ingredients, including “inert” ingredients, are required to be listed on the label.

Minimum risk pesticides are used by organic growers, municipalities, and others who are not permitted to, or choose to avoid, toxic chemicals.

Organic growers can lose their organic certification if they apply materials that are prohibited, which include the toxic ingredients glyphosate, bifenthrin, permethrin, cypermethrin, and carbaryl, found by the state of California in dangerous and misbranded Eco-MIGHT and W.O.W. (Whack Out Weeds!) products, falsely labeled as 25(b) minimum risk. Contamination of these products came to light in late July, when the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) State Organic Program issued a Stop Use Notice to farmers, alerting them to adulteration in Eco-MIGHT and W.O.W products. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (the state’s primary enforcement agent for pesticides) sent a warning letter to EcoMIGHT LLC, which produces both of the products in question, alerting them that they may be in violation of state law. EPA sent a similar advisory letter to the company indicating that it “may be in violation” of FIFRA by misbranding, selling an unregistered pesticide (given the presence of ingredients disallowed in 25(b) minimum risk products), and false and misleading label statements, which could make the company “subject to penalties of not more than $7,500 for each independently assessable violation.”

While these warning letters may be the first step in criminal enforcement action, they are inadequate to protect the organic farmers and other users who depend on the integrity of the products as represented by the company. The process for action is slow, the initial penalties are inconsequential, and real people will be hurt as a result.

EPA must initiate better oversight over the manufacture and sale of minimum risk pesticides. It must take immediate action to stop sale of products misbranded as minimum risk pesticides. There must be real penalties—severe enough to incentivize against fraudulent practices—assessed against violators.

Congress must ensure that penalties in FIFRA are sufficient to eliminate abuse of Section 25(b).

Thank you for your consideration of this important issue.


Letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan

Recent findings of high levels of toxic pesticides in products permitted to be used as “minimum risk pesticides” point to the need for greater oversight of these products and more severe penalties for violations. Pesticides classified as minimum risk are allowed under Section 25(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) [40 CFR 152.25(f)] to be used without going through EPA’s pesticide registration process. These products are limited to a specific list of ingredients, and all ingredients, including “inert” ingredients, are required to be listed on the label.

Minimum risk pesticides are used by organic growers, municipalities, and others who are not permitted to, or choose to avoid, toxic chemicals.

Organic growers can lose their organic certification if they apply materials that are prohibited, which include the toxic ingredients glyphosate, bifenthrin, permethrin, cypermethrin, and carbaryl, found by the state of California in dangerous and misbranded Eco-MIGHT and W.O.W. (Whack Out Weeds!) products, falsely labeled as 25(b) minimum risk. Contamination of these products came to light in late July, when the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) State Organic Program issued a Stop Use Notice to farmers, alerting them to adulteration in Eco-MIGHT and W.O.W products. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (the state’s primary enforcement agent for pesticides) sent a warning letter to EcoMIGHT LLC, which produces both of the products in question, alerting them that they may be in violation of state law. EPA sent a similar advisory letter to the company indicating that it “may be in violation” of FIFRA by misbranding, selling an unregistered pesticide (given the presence of ingredients disallowed in 25(b) minimum risk products), and false and misleading label statements, which could make the company “subject to penalties of not more than $7,500 for each independently assessable violation.”

While these warning letters may be the first step in criminal enforcement action, they are inadequate to protect the organic farmers and other users who depend on the integrity of the products as represented by the company. The process for action is slow, the initial penalties are inconsequential, and real people will be hurt as a result

EPA must initiate better oversight over the manufacture and sale of minimum risk pesticides. It must take immediate action to stop sale of products misbranded as minimum risk pesticides. There must be real penalties—severe enough to incentivize against fraudulent practices—assessed against violators. If penalties in FIFRA are not sufficient, then EPA should request Congress to increase the penalties.

Thank you for your consideration of this important issue.

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