EPA Seeking Comment on Disclosing Pesticide Ingredients
by Brian Turnbaugh*, 12/22/2009
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it will begin accepting public comments on its proposal to require pesticide manufacturers to label pesticide ingredients. Currently, pesticide makers must label the "active" ingredients in a pesticide, but they are not required to identify the so called inert ingredients. "Inerts" often are toxic or otherwise harmful substances in their own right.
According to EPA, "Consumers deserve to know the identities of ingredients in pesticide formulations, including inert ingredients." Such disclosure "will empower consumers and pesticide users to make more informed choices.” [news release]The EPA will soon publish in the Federal Register an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), which is an early step toward reaching a final rule. As soon as the agency's proposal is published, the public will have 60 days to comment. EPA will likely seek comment on options for requiring disclosure of inert ingredients, such as which inert ingredients must be disclosed and whether a voluntary disclosure program would be adequate. This proposed rulemaking is the agency's response to a pair of petitions, one submitted by the nonprofit group, Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, and a second by several State Attorneys General. The petitions called for requiring disclosure on labels of more than 350 inert pesticide ingredients that have been deemed hazardous. The agency's response to the petitions is underlain by the sound understanding that the public has a right to know what is in the products they are using – especially if those ingredients are hazardous – and informed consumers can make better, safer choices. Moreover, those informed purchasing decisions will pressure pesticide manufacturers, who will no longer be allowed to hide hazardous ingredients as "trade secrets," to use less toxic inert ingredients in the products they manufacture.