Biocontrol for termites

USDA scientists have identified a bacterium and two fungi species that prey on Formosan termites, the imported pest that wreaks $1 billion in damage each year in the United States. Maureen Wright, a research microbiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said that field testing could start as early as next spring. Wright notes that the regulatory loss of effective chemicals makes this an especially important discovery.

Just read the instructions

California regulatory officials are proposing a ban on clopyralid herbicide (Confront and other products) following a similar action taken recently by Washington state. The actions are in response to concerns that clopyralid is contaminating compost derived from turf clippings, and then harming garden plants to which the compost is applied. These regulatory actions are occurring despite label language that clearly spells out that clippings from treated grass shouldn't be used as compost.

Pesticide security bill defeated

The Maryland pesticide security bill, HB 809, which would have mandated, among other things, criminal background checks for chemical applicators, has been defeated. A variety of green industry advocates helped stop the measure, which was backed by anti-pesticide activists.

Methyl bromide eradicates anthrax

A University of Florida researcher has found that methyl bromide, the soon-to-be-banned soil fumigant, is more effective and less expensive than current treatments in eradicating deadly Anthrax spores from buildings.

Dr. Rudolf Scheffrahn, a professor of entomology with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, states that methyl bromide fumigation would have cost less than one-fourth of the $23 million spent to clean up the anthrax contamination in the 3,000-square-foot Daschle Suite in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. Chlorine dioxide was used instead.

“Another advantage of using methyl bromide fumigant is that it will not damage equipment, furnishings or sensitive materials,” he said. By contrast, “Chlorine dioxide is corrosive and may damage electronics, fabrics and photographs, among other things.”

Even though regulations permit the use of methyl bromide for emergency situations, the EPA reportedly is reluctant to use it because of its ozone-depleting properties.

EPA double-cross?

The U.S. EPA's Reduced Risk program is designed to help manufacturers bring less risky pesticides to the market more quickly and easily. When a manufacturer utilizes this program, it must cancel the registration of the older chemical that the newer chemical is intended to replace. However, as Syngenta recently found out, the EPA may not be implementing its Reduced Risk program quite as expected.

Syngenta has found a way to produce its herbicide, S-metolachlor (a widely used corn herbicide, but also used in the T&O market as Pennant herbicide), in a form that requires considerably lower use rates. Hence, its Reduced Risk designation.

Now, however, after Syngenta relenquished its registration of metolachlor, it appears the EPA is considering granting “me too” registrations of the original metolachlor to other manufacturers. Not only does this seem to defeat the purpose of the Reduced Risk program, it also harms the credibility of the EPA and could discourage other manufacturers from developing their own reduced risk pesticides.

Even some environmental groups are criticizing the EPA for its behaviour in this matter.

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