EPA tightening pesticide regulations under Endangered Species Act
Environmental groups are pushing the EPA to better comply with the Endangered Species Act when registering crop protection products.
Aaron Hager is a weed scientist with the University of Illinois. “This will have an impact on virtually every pesticide application that takes place in the future.”
He tells Brownfield there are several proposals the Environmental Protection Agency is working through. One proposed pilot project from the agency would limit pesticide applications across the entire range of habitat for the endangered Rusty Patch Bumblebee.
“Essentially, what the agency is proposing is there will be no outdoor pesticide application in the range of this insect. According to the agency’s own estimate, that would be in excess of 1,000,000 acres and the predominant areas that are going to be impacted by this include the state of Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.”
He says over half of the 1700 species on the endangered list are plants, which is a major concern for herbicides.
“One of the most widely used herbicides that affects more plant species than anything else is glyphosate. There’s a lot of questions about what’s going to happen when the glyphosate undergoes re-registration.”
Hager says the ESA is already impacting products that farmers use, for example, the latest labels for Enlist One and Enlist Duo prohibit application in certain counties with known endangered species.
“Will that become more commonplace as we move forward and more herbicides are either registered or reregistered? The answer is yes, I’m fairly confident it will.”
He says farmers, commodity groups and retailers need to stay up to date on the agency’s proposals.
“There’s really no reason why anybody involved in agriculture across the United States should not be taking this very seriously ,looking at these documents, understanding these comment periods and offering comments to the agency.”
He says the EPA is receptive to comments that point out issues they have overlooked or offer solutions to allow the industry to continue using important pesticides.
Audio: Interview with Aaron Hager