RISE Shares 2005 Outlook
Allen James, president of RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) has released his 2005 outlook for the specialty pesticide and fertilizer industry. Reviews of regulations under the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act as well as local pesticide and fertilizer bans continue to be top concerns for the industry.
"In the administration's second term, I see a number of issues that will affect our industry during 2005," James said. "First of all, I believe that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) needs to be updated. The regulation of pesticides versus the ESA continues to be a battleground that hampers our industry without benefit to the public. Change is needed right now."
James also sees the Clean Water Act and its related National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements as applied to certain pesticide applications needing to be monitored by industry this year. He believes the activists will continue to use these issues to oppose the industry and hamper efforts to sell and apply pesticides used in or near water.
Fortunately, the EPA just released an interpretive statement and proposed rule that reflect EPA's long-standing policy that a CWA permit is not required where application of a particular pesticide to or over water is consistent with requirements under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
As always, the threat of local bans on pesticides and fertilizers continues to be in the forefront of the industry's outlook for the year. James sees the trend continuing in small communities with a focus on the so-called cosmetic use model that originated in Canada.
"We are watching the entire United States, but particularly the border states of New York, Connecticut, Maine, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Washington for any activity relative to banning pesticides, especially for outdoor lawn care and parks," James stated. "I would like to remind industry associates that fortunately for those of us in the U.S., most states have state preemption laws that override local bans. However, there is a growing effort among activists to overturn state preemption, and in some cases, to secure bans in violation of state law in hopes that state legislators will change the law." RISE is currently suing the City of Madison and Dane County, Wis., for just such a violation of state law. "The City of Madison and Dane County have overstepped their boundaries," James explained. "If we allow these bans to be instituted, we are completely ignoring preemption and what it stands for."
Activists have been unsuccessful pushing bans at the federal level, so they are now using the Internet to move to the local level in order to reach local government officials, according to James. "The wheels of change at the local level move more quickly and activists are using that reality to their advantage," he stated.
The spread of West Nile virus continues to be a concern for industry officials. "We are watching where West Nile virus is detected. I think there will be continued efforts by some groups to ban spraying for the virus," James predicted. "Although we will likely see a diminishing amount of activity because the activists haven't had very much luck. They have been ineffective in securing bans mainly because the public demands the use of the products. RISE will continue to educate the public on the efforts to protect against West Nile virus and insect borne diseases through responsible pesticide use."
The issue of bio-monitoring continues to loom. Bio-monitoring is the measurement of environmental chemicals in the human body. Industry supporters must continue to insist that this measurement be conducted through scientifically-valid reporting. James also anticipates an increase in claims of "chemical trespass" against pesticides by industry opponents. Increased allegations by activists that any detection of pesticides in human blood indicates harm to humans will be the theme of this movement. "The fact that the minor detection of pesticides in the human body does not indicate any harm is unimportant to activists," James commented, "so we expect outcries by activists if bio-monitoring indicates any detection of pesticides in human blood. Bio-monitoring will serve as a rallying point for individuals that claim chemical sensitivity, and we have already begun to see some increased activity." Industry officials believe that individuals who claim chemical sensitivity will use bio-monitoring to further justify their feelings that chemical trespass is causing their illness.
According to James, all of these new claims tie into the continued misuse of the so-called Precautionary Principle belief. Activists want the Precautionary Principle to be defined as any risk associated with any pesticide results in either no pesticide registration or if the product is in commerce, the removal of that product from the market. Risk of any kind is not acceptable to those who oppose the pesticide industry.
"For RISE and the industry to overcome misinformation and propaganda, we need grassroots support and interaction," he asserted. "I would encourage state and local associations across all industry segments to become more aware of and involved with RISE."
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