February 5, 2013

A historical look at pesticide regulation in the US

By Barry Draycott

During the last month I have been involved in several courses at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Rutgers Middlesex Extension and the NJ Landscape Contractors Association. These classes were designed to help professional landscapers and lawn care companies successfully reduce the amount of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers currently using while sustaining the quality their clients are used to. Both IPM and organic approaches were discussed in detail.

We also talked a lot about how these approaches are “just good business”.  More and more people are asking for eco-friendly lawn care services and new regulations are making it tougher to continue business as usual.

There was a strong agreement among those attending the courses that they wanted to be a step or two ahead of their competition.

As if right on cue, I found the following article that emphasizes the need to get in front of the curve before you are left behind. Learning now how to successfully maintain landscapes and lawns with fewer of the existing tools is critical to a successful future.

Steve Dwinell of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services was a featured speaker at the 2013 Lawn Care Summit in Orlando, co-hosted by PLANET and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). He walked attendees through more than 50 years of pesticide regulations in the U.S. to help offer a perspective on what the future could hold.

Now it’s the Eco Era. More recently, the “Eco Era” has been ushered in with the creation of the FQPA’s Registration Review process. Pesticides distributed and sold in the U.S. must be registered by EPA, based on scientific data showing that they will not cause unreasonable risks to human health, workers, or the environment when used as directed on product labeling.

Ecological Risk Brings More Scrutiny. First emerging in 1998, an EPA Ecological Risk Assessment evaluates how likely it is that the environment may be impacted as a result of exposure to one or more environmental stressors such as chemicals or land change. These assessments have brought about increased scrutiny to pesticide use.

Dwinell reminds us that these assessments extend beyond people. We’re talking about assessing risk to things like fish, birds, bees, endangered plants, and even endangered insects. As a result, a variety of eco risk-mitigating tools have been put into place for some pesticides, including revised Environmental Hazard Statements and restricted use declarations (sites, rates, times, applicators, application methods, etc.).

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