The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a revision to the methods dictating pesticide registration. The new protocol updates how biological evaluations are conducted under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The goal is to streamline the process of registering new pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) while also protecting endangered species.
“Responsible pesticide use is an essential tool for managing America’s farmland,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a news release. “EPA’s improved methodology will better protect and promote the recovery of endangered species while ensuring pesticide registration review decisions are conducted in a timely, transparent manner and are based on the best available science.”
The Revised Method for National Level Listed Species Biological Evaluations of Conventional Pesticides from EPA utilizes pesticide usage information for the first time to assist with the biological evaluation process. The historical data used for biological opinions have been derived from a large variety of stakeholders and will allow EPA to better project pesticide usage in the future. The ESA has played an integral part in ensuring the protection of vulnerable species and habitats, but the assessment process for pesticides has resulted in costly delays and time-consuming litigation for many years.
“The required review of crop protection chemicals under the Endangered Species Act is an issue that has frustrated America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers for far too long. Under President Trump’s leadership, we are cutting the red tape to unleash the full potential of American agriculture,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
The revised method for evaluating pesticide registration comes as a result of the 2018 Farm Bill, which called for the implementation of a strategy for improving the ESA consultation process. After working with an interagency working group established in 2018, EPA initially issued the proposal for updating the evaluation process for determining the impact that pesticides will have on endangered species back in 2019.