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EPA Authorizes Companies to Make Pesticide Labels Available on Internet

Monday, April 7, 2014

By Patrick Ambrosio  

April 4 --The Environmental Protection Agency will now allow pesticide registrants to make legally valid product labels accessible on the Internet.

The EPA released a pesticide registration notice, posted on the agency's website April 4, outlining a voluntary process for posting legally valid, enforceable pesticide labeling material on the Internet. Prior to issuance of the notice, which is effective immediately, no form of labeling posted on the Internet was legally valid, the EPA said.

All pesticide products still must be accompanied by a physical copy of EPA-approved labeling, but the new process will allow pesticide registrants to include a reference to a website from which pesticide applicators can download enforceable labeling. Applicators could then go to that website and download a “streamlined” version of the pesticide label, containing all necessary hazard and first aid statements and any relevant state- or site-specific use directions.

Pesticide applicators would be responsible for complying with all instructions either from the Web-distributed label or the physical label on a pesticide, according to the notice. The EPA added that pesticide users also would be responsible for complying with any state regulations or other applicable requirements requiring applicators to maintain a copy of the labeling used for applications.

The EPA said in an April 4 statement that physical product labels on pesticide packaging will not be shortened in any way due to the launch of Web-distributed labeling.

Increased Compliance, Faster Updates

The EPA said that the Web-based labeling initiative could result in several benefits, including increased compliance with federal pesticide law.

The agency said that the availability of streamlined pesticide labels on the Internet, which would still contain all relevant information for a user's specific state and intended site of the pesticide use, could make labels clearer for applicators to understand. That could improve compliance with pesticide label requirements, protecting human health and the environment from pesticide misuse, according to the EPA.

The EPA also said the adoption of Web-distributed labeling could allow the agency to modify labels and implement label-based risk mitigation measures more quickly.

Industry Reviewing Process

CropLife America told Bloomberg BNA in an April 4 e-mail that the association still needs to fully review the pesticide registration notice. CropLife is a trade association representing more than 60 developers, manufacturers and distributors of crop protection products, including BASF Corp., Dow AgroSciences LLC and Monsanto Co.

“We don't know that the potential conflicts with state laws and regulations have all been worked out yet,” CropLife said.

Section 24(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act prohibits states from imposing labeling requirements in addition to or different from those required under FIFRA.

CropLife, in comments submitted to the EPA in 2013 on a draft version of the pesticide registration notice, suggested that the EPA change any references to “state-specific labeling” to “regional” or “geographic” labeling to indicate regional or geographic restrictions or directions that are already included on EPA-approved labeling.

The final version of the pesticide registration notice maintains the references to “state-specific” labeling.

 

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Ambrosio in Washington at pambrosio@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com


The pesticide registration notice on Web-distributed labeling is available at http://www.epa.gov/PR_Notices/pr2014-1.pdf.

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