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Reg WeekSM: CRE Regulatory Action of the Week

Will EPA Take Actions Which Send A Strong Signal To Corporate America Not To Spend The Funds Needed To Reduce Pesticide Usage?
A major U.S. corporation has spent considerable funds to find a more environmentally-friendly substitute for the pesticide Metolachlor. This alternative, S-Metolachlor, will reduce by 35% the amount of pesticide used on major food crops, compared to the original product. Through the 2000 use season alone, replacement of old Metolachlor with S-Metolachlor reduced pesticide loading to the environment by over 40 million pounds. Surprisingly, EPA has been reluctant to cancel the Metolachlor registration, despite a request to do so by the registrant. In addition, EPA is currently considering new petitions for registration of the original pesticide product. CRE believes that these regulatory actions by EPA send a very negative message to corporate America.

  • Comment on Item

    "Me-Too" Pesticide Registrations by EPA Jeopardize Pesticide Risk Reduction and Voluntary Pollution Abatement

         Syngenta’s agreement with EPA's requirement to replace its duly-registered pesticide metolachlor with the equally effective but reduced-risk s-metolachlor is the most successful example of private industry working to achieve the agency’s goals of reducing pesticide risk and encouraging voluntary pollution abatement. As demonstrated below, this action will yield significant positive benefits for both the environment and the health of children and adults, by contributing to reduced pesticide exposures. Through the 2000 use season alone, replacement of old metolachlor with s-metolachlor reduced pesticide loading to the environment by over 40 million pounds. However, these gains are in jeopardy as a result of EPA’s consideration of a "me-too" registration for the original pesticide, in contravention of the agency’s prior requirement which would phase out metolachlor production.

     Why Replacement of Metolachlor with S-Metolachlor Makes Sense

         Syngenta spent great time, effort, and money to replace its registered product, metolachlor, with a new, more environmentally-friendly product, s-metolachlor. In return, EPA agreed to cancel metolachlor’s FIFRA registration, based upon the following logic consistent with the agency’s Reduced Risk Initiative:

    • Registration of s-metolachlor, and the EPA-required phase out of the old metolachlor, is the single largest reduced-risk pesticide action in U.S. history.

    • S-metolachlor is equally effective at killing weeds at only 65% of the application rate of metolachlor.

    • With the single action of canceling the original metolachlor, EPA will reduce pesticide exposure by over 200 million pounds by 2010 -- more than the reduction from all other reduced-risk pesticide registrations combined.

    Public Policy Consequences of Granting Me-Too Applications for Metolachlor

         EPA’s Reduced Risk Initiative (which encompasses both pesticide risk reduction and voluntary pollution abatement goals) and the environmental and health benefits achieved through the replacement of metolachlor with s-metolachlor are jeopardized by "me-too" registration applications for metolachlor filed by Cedar Chemical and SipCam.

         These "me-too’ applications ask EPA to abandon its goals, and to renege on its agreement with Syngenta, by allowing Cedar and SipCam to produce and sell the old metolachlor, relying in large part on Syngenta’s original data supporting use and registration of metolachlor.

         Granting these "me-too" applications would set a significant precedent by:

    • Eliminating the enormous benefit obtained through s-metolachlor by permitting continued release of the old metolachlor into the environment.

    • Jeopardize any chance of achieving EPA’s Reduced Risk Initiative.

    • Provide a powerful disincentive to responsible companies to cooperate voluntarily with EPA to reduce risk and pollution.


         Syngenta has met the requirements to phase out the old metolachlor. If EPA does not live up to its end of this bargain by canceling the metolachlor registration and denying these "me-too" applications, then EPA will send a strong message to responsible companies that they cannot rely on the agency’s representations. Ultimately, the environment, the American people, and the agency itself lose under this scenario.

         Therefore, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness (CRE) calls upon EPA to reexamine the current situation and take responsible action to cancel metolachlor’s registration and deny me-too applications which would promote its continued production.