Dealing with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pesticide ban when you still have existing stocks of the product. An appeals court has upheld the EPA’s ban on flubendiamide, which is marketed in the U.S. as Bayer’s Belt Insecticide.
Eight years ago, the EPA allowed registration for the product for use on 200 crops. It’s used widely in California on crops such as almonds, walnuts, processing tomatoes, cotton, alfalfa and others. Bayer Industry Relations Lead, Lee Hall, explains what led up to the EPA’s changed decision. “We got the registration in 2008 and it was called a conditional registration. The EPA allowed us to bring the product to the market but had a couple of questions that we needed to answer,” Hall said. “Over an eight year period we worked closely with the EPA to answer those questions. Opening up scientific dialog, reviewing the data we had and actually doing real-life monitoring of use of the product in the South and Southeast.”
Hall said the EPA was using a different system. “The EPA was using a model which they looked at different attributes. Where we ended up about a year ago was our monitoring data didn’t match the modeling data the EPA was conducting,” Hall said. “From that point on we had kind of a deterioration in discussions with the EPA and that led to the call from them to voluntarily cancel Belt.”
He says despite the eight years of actual real-world data and study, the EPA created and used a hypothetical, theory-based model that led to its recent decision. “They were using different variables in their model. We were again using the real-life information not only from our studies in the field but from our laboratories,” Hall said. “The EPA chose to use their model and even kind of at the last moment change one of the variables that significantly impacted their model and it’s responses.”
Bayer appealed the decision, but it was upheld with a slight change. Growers and retailers who still have Belt in stock are allowed to use or sell those existing stocks as originally intended. “The Environmental Appeals Board reviewedd the ruling and while they did uphold the decision to cancel, they did change the ruling on existing stock,” Hall said. “All of the Belt product that was in the channel as far as distributors, retail and growers hands’ is allowed to move through the channel as normal. It’s very important to understand that all of our labels are still intact. Belt can be used in the over 200 crops that it’s registered for.”