CATCH THE BUZZ
Movento Cancelled. Kind of.
From Mary Clock-Rust
By Bill Pritchard
EPA Cancels Spirotetramat Registrations,
Could Issue New Approval for the Insecticide
The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final order
cancelling the registration of all products containing the
insecticide spirotetramat following a federal court decision vacating
the 2008 registration because EPA had failed to follow proper
Although the agency is canceling the registration in accordance with
the December 2009 ruling by the federal court in New York, EPA also
said it is proceeding on a possible new registration of spirotetramat
because it appears to be less risky than alternative pesticides.
EPA said in the April 5 order that it will allow sale, distribution,
and use of existing stocks by persons other than spirotetramat's
registrant, Bayer CropScience. “Use of existing stocks is permitted
provided such use is consistent in all respects with the
previously-approved labeling for the product,” it said.
The agency also said it is proceeding on a possible new registration
Bayer CropScience developed the insecticide to combat crop pests such
as aphids, whiteflies, scales, mealybugs, and gall midges in crops
including vegetables, cotton, and soybean, according to the company
website. The chemical is the active ingredient in the Bayer
CropScience products Movento, Spirotetramat Technical, and Ultor.
Possible New Registration of Product
EPA said it is treating as new the applications for spirotetramat
registration that Bayer CropScience filed in 2008. EPA said it is
also reviewing public comments submitted since the court vacated the
registration and will “determine whether the spirotetramat
applications for registration should be granted [and] what license
conditions and label language would be appropriate.”
The pesticide “appears to be less risky to the environment and to
human health than many of the alternative insecticides used on the
sites for which spirotetramat was approved,” it said.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in
December upheld claims by the Natural Resources Defense Council and
the Xerces Society that the agency failed to publish Federal Register
notices or provide for public comment before approving the pesticide
(NRDC v. EPA, S.D.N.Y., No. 09cv4317, 12/23/09; 247 DEN A-6, 12/30/09).
In a fact sheet on spirotetramat, EPA said that it “did not publish a
notice of registration in the Federal Register for any of these
decisions until August 6, 2009, three months after the plaintiffs
filed this lawsuit,” according to court documents.
In a March 22 statement, the NRDC also called spirotetramat a
“bee-toxic pesticide” that should not be sold until its effects are
“We remain hopeful” that the insecticide will ultimately be
registered, Bayer CropScience spokesman Jack Boyne told BNA April 7.
“It's a very effective product.”
The company has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second
Circuit to review the district court's order. The circuit court has
yet to schedule a hearing, according to its docket, but last month it
denied the company's motion to stay the district court's ruling
pending appeal (NRDC v. EPA, 2d Cir., No. 10-253, motion denied
Comments Favor Spirotetramat
EPA said slightly less than 90 percent of the remarks submitted
during a Feb. 26-March 29 comment period following the court ruling
favored continued use and distribution of existing stocks of the
insecticide. Those remarks “cited a number of situations in which
spirotetramat has replaced older, more toxic chemistries, including
organophosphates and carbamates,” the agency said.
For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture said “there
is no justification to burden businesses, and individuals currently
in possession of products thought to be properly registered,”
according to a March 4 EPA publication, “Spirotetramat—Comments
received on the sale, distribution, and/or use of existing stocks.”
The National Potato Council said that “providing for the continued
use of existing stocks of spirotetramat is critical to not needlessly
disrupting the on farm decision making process due to procedural
issues in the legal system and with no demonstration of evidence
against the safety of the use of spirotetramat.”
Threat to Honey Bee Colonies?
However, the National Honeybee Advisory Board said the pesticide
“represents a threat to insect pollinators and specifically managed
honey bee colonies.” The board asked EPA to “require the registrant
(Bayer) to recall all existing product.”
Aaron Colangelo, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense
Council, said in the organization's March 22 statement that “our
national bee emergency continues, with estimates of winter colony
losses topping 30 percent again this year. We simply cannot afford to
run an unregulated experiment on the pollinators that are central to
our food system.”
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