Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. serves small, medium, and large pesticide product registrants and other stakeholders in the agricultural and biocidal sectors, in virtually every aspect of pesticide law, policy, science, and regulation.
On September 15, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is terminating the Temporary Amendment to Pesticide Registration (PR) Notice 98-10, effective September 15, 2022. EPA states that it is providing 12 months’ notice to registrants before the termination takes effect to give registrants time to adjust their contractual commitments. Registrants must ensure that by September 15, 2022, their product is produced using a source of active ingredient identified in the product’s EPA-approved Confidential Statement of Formula (CSF) or otherwise complies with the requirements of PR Notice 98-10. All notifications submitted to EPA under the temporary process are valid only for the time period of the temporary amendment. After September 15, 2022, registrants “will not be able to release for shipment formulations produced under the conditions of the temporary amendment without first complying with the registration requirements that were in place prior to the issuance of the temporary amendments.”
EPA states that this notice applies to products on EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) or products that serve as the source of active ingredient for disinfectants on EPA’s List N. This notice also applies to food contact surface sanitizer products containing the active ingredient isopropyl alcohol that are used in the essential role of food manufacturer and preparation.
In 2020, EPA issued temporary amendments to PR Notice 98-10 to ensure that antimicrobial products remained available in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. According to EPA, supply chains have stabilized and disinfectant products expected to kill SARS-CoV-2 have become consistently available to consumers, so it has determined that this flexibility is no longer needed. When the temporary amendment was issued, EPA stated it would assess the continued need for and scope of the temporary amendment to PR Notice 98-10 on a regular basis and would update it if EPA determined modifications were necessary. EPA stated it would post a notification at www.epa.gov/pesticides at least seven days prior to terminating the temporary amendment. EPA acknowledges in the termination memorandum that registrants require time to make the temporary changes permanent through CSF amendment or notification and therefore is providing 12 months, rather than the seven days guaranteed in the temporary amendment.
In early July 1996, I was returning on a flight from Amman, Jordan, wondering what kind of negotiation we in the Clinton Administration faced in completing the legislative text of what became the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA). (I had been asked to go to Jordan to visit the Jordanian pesticide regulatory program by a friend who was a senior official at the State Department. The result of my visit may have played a very, very small role in the Middle East peace process -- but that is another story for another time).
Some weeks earlier, I had been approached by Congressional staff members whom I knew from my previous job at the Congressional Research Service (CRS) as the subject area expert on the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and pesticide regulation. I joined the Clinton Administration as a political deputy in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances (OPPTS, now renamed as the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP)). Dr. Lynn Goldman was the Assistant Administrator who had recruited me to join the efforts to reform, that is, modernize, the Delaney Clause of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). Over the years since it was enacted in 1958, risk assessment methods and our understanding of possible cancer risks had changed greatly.
Setting the Context
In 1989, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report on “The Delaney Paradox,” examining how the Delaney Clause ironically prevented safer new pesticides from entering the market. After an important court decision (Les v. Riley), EPA was told that even if it was undesirable public policy, the law can only be changed by Congress. As EPA went along with its work, many feared that numerous pesticides might be forced off the market even if, using modern evaluation policies, they presented little risk or were in fact safer than the alternatives.
During this time, advocacy groups were concerned that the then-current law was not protective enough of the possible risks to children’s diets. A simple way to say this is, for purposes of risk assessment: “Children are not little adults,” and supporters emphasized that dietary risk assessments by EPA should pay special attention to possible children’s risk given differences in metabolism, growth stages, and other important physiological characteristics.
This led to another National Academy of Sciences report in 1994 on “Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children,” which recommended that pesticide regulation include particular attention and possibly greater regulation of estimated dietary risks from pesticides. Given that the new Assistant Administrator of OPPTS was Dr. Lynn Goldman, a pediatrician, this concern was a priority for the Clinton Administration.
“The Gingrich Revolution”
A less noticed irony, but also important to the history of FQPA, is the change in party control of the House of Representatives, led by Representative Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and the “Contract with America” during the 1994 elections. Unexpectedly, the Republicans had the majority in the House for the first time in 40 years, and they elected Representative Gingrich Speaker of the House.
Much longer stories have been and will be written, but shortly after taking power in the House in January 1995, the Republicans were viewed as letting lobbyists run amok -- even suggesting amendments to environmental laws while lobbyists were sitting on the dais of Committee meetings. By the end of 1995 and going into an election year in 1996, “word was” the leadership, at least on the House Energy and Commerce Committee -- chaired by Representative Thomas Bliley (R-VA) -- was looking for a “green vote” to offset the image of an anti-environment House majority. Led by staff from the office of Chair Bliley and Representative John Dingell (D-MI), who was the senior Democrat on the Committee, a draft of a compromise bill was floated and made its way to my office at EPA.
Meantime, during the previous Congress (103rd Congress, 1993 - 1994), a team of EPA staff, led by Jim Jones (a later even more famous name in EPA pesticide regulation) of the Assistant Administrator’s office, along with staff from the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) and the Office of General Counsel (OGC), and staff from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (it takes a village), had developed a Clinton Administration bill that did not gather much support during 1994. The legislation did have the core concepts of “fixing Delaney” and including the “reasonable certainty of no harm” standard, and it incorporated strong protections about possible risks from residues in the diets of infants and children.
In the new Congress (the 104th), there was some action during 1995 in the House Agriculture Committee on FIFRA issues related to antimicrobial products, minor uses of pesticides, and ways to prod the registration process to become more predictable and timely (this was before the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA)). The FIFRA amendments were not viewed as controversial and were successfully discussed between both sides of the aisle (the Agriculture Committees were much more bipartisan in those days). By itself, that package was not likely to make it through the legislative gauntlet, given the shift in political power on the Hill.
Also in 1995, Carol Browner (the EPA Administrator) cautioned us that successful bipartisan legislation was unlikely, so not much effort should be invested, given other priorities.
The key event came in the late spring of 1996, when we first saw a draft of the legislation floated by the staff of Representatives Bliley and Dingell. It was far from perfect, but it included the core elements of what the Administration had proposed in the previous Congress. Since that earlier bill had been drafted with the coordination of EPA, FDA, and USDA, if it had the essential ingredients, we thought it might be a viable vehicle for further discussion. We also sought comment from some of the influential environmental groups that had been disappointed in the Administration’s legislation in the previous Congress. Suffice it to say, inclusion of the core elements of a tough standard (reasonable certainty of no harm) and special protections regarding children’s diets made the proposals a “possible” vehicle for further discussion.
We also started to have discussions with the staff of Representative Waxman (D-CA) in the House and Senator Kennedy (D-MA). Representative Waxman was the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, and Senator Kennedy was the ranking Democrat on the Labor Committee, which had jurisdiction over the FFDCA.
Back to July 1996
To shorten the story, we had intense, long meetings with the various interested parties -- pesticide registrants; environmental groups; trade associations; agency staff at EPA, FDA, and USDA; Congressional staff from the authorizing Committees; and Administration leaders within the agencies and the White House. In an amazingly short time, we came to agreement over the text, which is now FQPA. Representatives Waxman and Roberts (R-KS -- Chair of the House Agriculture Committee) held a press event about the historic compromise -- even more historic since the two Representatives rarely agreed on significant legislation. Their joint endorsement and statement of support signaled to members of both parties on both sides of Capitol Hill that this was an unusual, and important, compromise. The Congressional staff then recognized the next hurdle: the August recess was approaching fast, and if not enacted into law by then, the delay could be fatal, or at least make matters more complicated, as the multitude of interest groups would likely pick apart and want further changes to the agreement that had been reached. So the rush was on to get the “green vote” to the floor of the House and Senate.
Some last-moment hiccups took a little more time. Senator Lugar (R-IN), the Senate Agriculture Committee Chair, wanted a hearing to at least review the legislation. This was not a huge hurdle, but finding time on the floor was a race against the clock before the August recess. The House was the first to vote on July 23, 1996. The bill was approved with a surprising unanimous roll call vote in the majority Republican House (the vote was 417-0 with 16 not voting). Unanimous bipartisan support! -- imagine that in today’s world.
Then, with a sprinkling of clarifying (that is, reassuring) pieces of correspondence, the Senate agreed to the House legislation under unanimous consent. (In fact, for any trivia nuts out there, if you watch the C-SPAN video of how long the Senate deliberation lasted at the end of the day on July 24, 1996 -- the request for unanimous consent and agreement clocks in under 30 seconds.)
So with unanimous support in both the House and the Senate, FQPA was approved.
One Last Step
One very important last step was needed before FQPA became law -- the President needed to sign the legislation. That happened at the White House when H.R. 1627 was signed by President Clinton on August 3, 1996.
On August 25, 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced its release of a draft guide detailing the information requirements and process for submitting a Regulatory Status Review (RSR) request. Developers of certain genetically modified organisms may use the RSR process to determine the regulatory status of the organisms. The draft guide is open for public comment for 60 days. APHIS also will host a webinar to provide an overview of the draft RSR guide.
On May 18, 2020, APHIS published revised biotechnology regulations, codified in 7 C.F.R. Part 340 and referred to as the Sustainable, Ecological, Consistent, Uniform, Responsible, Efficient (SECURE) rule. For a discussion of the SECURE rule, please review Final SECURE Rule Will Update and Modernize USDA's Biotechnology Regulations. The revised regulations identify high-level information requirements for submissions to support RSR requests. In response to comments on the proposed SECURE rule, APHIS stated that it would publish detailed information requirements as a draft guide for public comment prior to issuing the draft guide in final.
The draft RSR guide is available on the APHIS website, at the bottom of the tab labeled The Regulatory Status Review Process, and also in the online docket. The public may submit comments at https://www.regulations.gov/docket/APHIS-2021-0062. APHIS states that it will consider all comments received by October 25, 2021, prior to issuing the final RSR guide. Additionally, APHIS will host a technical webinar on September 21, 2021, to discuss the RSR process and guide, and provide stakeholders the opportunity to ask questions. Registration is available now on the APHIS website.
APHIS is authorized by the Plant Protection Act to evaluate potential plant pest risks resulting from certain organisms developed using genetic engineering techniques. Prior to the SECURE rule, developers of genetically modified plants could petition APHIS to seek a determination that a modified plant is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk and therefore is no longer subject to APHIS’ biotechnology regulations. With the SECURE rule, APHIS made several changes to its procedures, including introduction of the RSR process. The RSR process was implemented for select crops on April 5, 2021, and will be fully implemented for all crops on October 1, 2021.
Developers must submit a significant amount of technical information to APHIS to support a determination that a genetically modified plant can be deregulated. It typically is welcome news when regulators clarify the information that they need to make a regulatory determination, particularly given the time and resources invested in a new technology. A clear regulatory process, including information requirements and review timelines, allows industry to plan accordingly. The APHIS draft guide addresses information requirements, the review process, decision timelines, confidential business information justifications, and key definitions, and provides an optional submission template. It appears to be a useful tool in planning an RSR submission. We urge developers of genetically modified plants to review the guide carefully. If, following review, there are issues that require additional clarification, developers should highlight those issues in comments submitted to the docket linked above.
EPA Announces Penalty Issued against Southern California Company for Selling Illegal Antimicrobial Products
On August 25, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it issued a penalty against Seychelle Environmental Technologies, Inc. (Seychelle), based in Aliso Viejo, California, for violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The violations, which EPA states that Seychelle has since corrected, involved the sale of unregistered antimicrobial products and the manufacture of products in an unregistered establishment.
According to EPA, in 2017 and 2018, Seychelle sold a collection of related water filtration products known as the “Seychelle Standard Filter” and the “Seychelle Advanced Filter.” EPA states that these Seychelle filter products made “numerous” antimicrobial claims, and thus under FIFRA, EPA considered these products to be pesticides that must be registered with EPA. Additionally, under FIFRA, pesticide manufacturers must register their facilities with EPA as establishments and annually report their pesticide production. Since Seychelle’s water filter products were not produced in an EPA-registered establishment, EPA determined there was another FIFRA violation. Based on the sale or distribution of an unregistered pesticide and the unregistered establishment, EPA assessed a penalty to Seychelle in the amount of $150,000 (USD).
On August 18, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will stop the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on all food. In the pre-publication of the Federal Register notice released on August 19, 2021, EPA revoked all “tolerances” for chlorpyrifos, which establish an amount of a pesticide that is allowed on food. In addition, EPA states that it will issue a Notice of Intent to Cancel under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to cancel registered food uses of chlorpyrifos associated with the revoked tolerances. EPA has stated the cancellation order will follow in approximately six months after the tolerance revocations.
EPA’s announcement responds to the Ninth Circuit’s order, issued on April 29, 2021, that vacated EPA orders issued in 2017 and 2019 denying a 2007 petition filed by Pesticide Action Network North America and Natural Resources Defense Council. That petition requested that EPA revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances, or the maximum allowed residue levels in food, because those tolerances were not safe, in part due to the potential for neurodevelopmental effects in children. The 2017 and 2019 orders denying the 2007 petition were challenged in the Ninth Circuit by a coalition of farmworker, health, environmental, and other groups.
In its order, the Ninth Circuit found that “...EPA had abdicated its statutory duty under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) ...” to “conclude, to the statutorily required standard of reasonable certainty, that the present tolerances caused no harm.” After vacating the 2017 and 2019 orders, the court remanded the matter to EPA with instructions to: “(1) grant the 2007 Petition; (2) issue a final regulation within 60 days following issuance of the mandate that either (a) revokes all chlorpyrifos tolerances or (b) modifies chlorpyrifos tolerances and simultaneously certifies that, with the tolerances so modified, the EPA ‘has determined that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures for which there is reliable information,’ including for ‘infants and children’; and (3) modify or cancel related FIFRA registrations for food use in a timely fashion consistent with the requirements of 21 U.S.C. § 346a(a)(1).”
In its announcement, EPA states that it has determined that the current aggregate exposures from the use of chlorpyrifos do not meet the legally required safety standard that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from such exposures. Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide used for a large variety of agricultural uses and has been continually reviewed with regard to potential adverse effects, including possible neurological effects in children, which has been the subject of considerable controversy for many years. EPA’s announcement notes that a number of other countries, including the European Union and Canada, and some states, including California, Hawaii, New York, Maryland, and Oregon, have taken similar action to restrict the use of this pesticide on food.
EPA states its action also will be incorporated into the ongoing registration review for chlorpyrifos. EPA is continuing to review the comments submitted on the chlorpyrifos proposed interim decision, draft revised human health risk assessment, and draft ecological risk assessment. These documents are available in the chlorpyrifos registration review docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0850 at www.regulations.gov and a discussion of these issues is available on our blog here.
After considering public comments, EPA will proceed with its registration review of the remaining non-food uses of chlorpyrifos by issuing the interim decision, which may consider additional measures to reduce human health and ecological risks.
Separate from any issues of science, evidence, or interpretation, the FFDCA’s channels of trade provision is designed to address what happens if EPA cancels a pesticide product for not meeting Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) standards and then revokes the tolerance. EPA’s initial description of its decision was unclear on this important point regarding the status of food already in the channels of trade that may contain chlorpyrifos residues.
EPA statements at an August 18, 2021, phone briefing with agricultural stakeholders appeared to present a position that the tolerance revocations would be in effect immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. This implied that there may be an immediate revocation of the tolerances before any parallel action to cancel the associated pesticide registrations. The pre-publication version of the notice clarified that the revocation of chlorpyrifos tolerances would not become effective until six months after the publication of the notice in the Federal Register. As of August 24, 2021, the notice has not been published in the Federal Register.
This revocation delay of six months aligns with the statement also made by EPA to cancel the registration of chlorpyrifos food use products six months after the revocation notice. EPA may face questions from some of the groups that have been advocating for this type of EPA action concerning why, if these tolerances need to be revoked, the use of the pesticide will continue in effect for the remainder of this growing season. Ed Messina, Office Director of the Office of Pesticide Programs, made a glancing reference to this at the phone conference when he stated EPA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are “having discussions.”
According to EPA, use of chlorpyrifos has been in decline due to restrictions at the state level and reduced production. EPA also notes that some alternatives have been registered in recent years for most crops, other chemistries and insect growth regulators are available for certain target pests, and that EPA is committed to reviewing replacements for and alternatives to chlorpyrifos. Some growers, however, are using registered chlorpyrifos products on food crops and hoped to be able to continue certain uses.
EPA states in the pre-publication notice that some uses in certain areas appear to be able to meet the FQPA standard as evaluated in its 2016 and 2020 risk assessment documents, even if including the full 10x FQPA “extra” safety factor (these assessments are the reference documents EPA cites in its revocation notice). EPA further states that the Ninth Circuit’s order did not provide EPA with time to consider further changes to the use patterns or label restrictions to align with such changes hinted at in the revocation notice, and so EPA is issuing the revocation decision now. This begs the question of whether EPA might consider some continued uses in the future, although even considering any “new” tolerance would be very controversial.
In addition, none of the current actions affect (for now) the tolerances for stored grains using the sister chemical (chlorpyrifos-methyl) with a similar toxicological profile. There also are non-food use applications of chlorpyrifos, for example, mosquito control application of chlorpyrifos sprayed over a large area, that are not affected by the tolerance revocation.
This mix of messages may not be easy to explain to users and the consuming public.
Issues regarding the timing of the revocations and continued uses are also likely to present challenges for FDA. For example, there are various blended commodities (e.g., animal feed grain, possibly co-mingling harvests from different times) where FDA may be unable to determine what part of any enforcement sample came from a particular date of use.
The orderly transition for treated commodities was designed to avoid public and grower confusion that characterized the episodes of StarLink corn chaos in 2000 or the Cheerios contamination incident in 1994 involving a reported over 100 million boxes of cereal that were eventually destroyed. EPA cites international trade obligations as another reason for the coordinated actions effective in six months to notify foreign trading partners with a “reasonable interval” for adjusting to a changed regulatory situation.
Additional information on chlorpyrifos is available on our blog.
On August 17, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is now accepting official Foreign Purchaser Acknowledgement Statements (FPAS) and FPAS annual summaries through the Central Data Exchange Pesticide Submission Portal (CDX PSP). EPA states this improved process allows for pesticide exporters to submit an FPAS electronically rather than physically mailing them, providing a key flexibility during the COVID-19 public health emergency. According to the Federal Register notice, an FPAS may be submitted using CDX PSP as of August 18, 2021. 86 Fed. Reg. 46246.
Pesticides intended solely for export from the U.S. to a foreign country are not required to be registered in the U.S., but exporters must submit an FPAS to EPA to comply with requirements under Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 17(a)(2). An FPAS includes critical information about the pesticide intended for export, which EPA uses to notify the Designated National Authority of the importing country.
Exporters have two options for complying with FIFRA Section 17(a) and 40 C.F.R. Section 168.75 through submission of an FPAS to EPA: per-shipment reporting and annual reporting.
Per-Shipment Reporting: To comply with requirements for per-shipment reporting, the exporter must provide EPA with the signed purchaser acknowledgement statement and the accompanying certification for each export within seven working days of the exporter’s receipt of the signed statement or by the date of export (whichever occurs first). The exporter must continue to submit this documentation prior to each shipment.
Annual Reporting: The exporter must submit a signed per-shipment purchaser acknowledgement statement for the first shipment each calendar year of an unregistered pesticide product to a particular purchaser and an annual summary of shipments to that purchaser. This FPAS should indicate that the exporter is choosing to provide an annual summary and certifying that the shipment in the FPAS was the first of the calendar year. When using the annual reporting option, the exporter is required to submit an annual report for each unregistered pesticide exported within the preceding calendar year. The exporter must submit the annual summary no later than March 1 of the following calendar year.
The annual summary report must be in writing, signed by the exporter, and include the following information:
Information on the required contents of FPAS about submitting statements electronically is available here.
On August 13, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it appointed two new members, Cheryl A. Murphy, Ph.D., Professor, Director of Center for PFAS Research, Michigan State University, and Veronica J. Berrocal, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Statistics, University of California, to serve on the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel (FIFRA SAP). The Chair and one other existing member also were reappointed. These appointments, effective July 30, 2021, were made by the EPA Administrator following nominations provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Members of the FIFRA SAP serve staggered terms of appointment, generally of three years. They possess expertise in scientific and technical fields relevant to human health and ecological risk assessment of pesticides. Members also have background and experiences that typically contribute to the diversity of scientific viewpoints on the Panel.
The FIFRA SAP serves as a primary scientific peer review mechanism of EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs and is structured to provide independent scientific advice and recommendations to EPA on health and safety issues related to pesticides.
The FIFRA SAP is composed of the following scientists:
Additional biographical details on the current members is available here.
The FIFRA SAP has been an important element of EPA’s pesticide program scientific review procedures. The pesticide program has been able to use the FIFRA SAP as an outside review element to add credibility to its key scientific policies over the decades since it was created as part of the FIFRA legislative amendments in the 1970s. (In fact, the FIFRA SAP was created before the EPA-wide Science Advisory Board (SAB).) Also important is the statutory provision, added as part of the Food Quality Protection Act in 1996, to establish a Science Review Board made up of 60 scientists “who shall be available to the Scientific Advisory Panel to assist in reviews conducted by the Panel.” Together, the goal is to have a range of scientific discipline expertise available to offer outside peer review of the wide range of science questions that confront EPA when evaluating pesticide registration issues.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced on July 14, 2021, that it filed an administrative complaint against Amazon.com, “the world’s largest retailer, to force Amazon to accept responsibility for recalling potentially hazardous products sold on Amazon.com.” CPSC claims that the specified products sold through Amazon’s “fulfilled by Amazon” (FBA) program are defective and pose a risk of serious injury or death to consumers and that Amazon is legally responsible to recall them. According to the complaint, the products include “24,000 faulty carbon monoxide detectors that fail to alarm, numerous children’s sleepwear garments that are in violation of the flammable fabric safety standard risking burn injuries to children, and nearly 400,000 hair dryers sold without the required immersion protection devices that protect consumers against shock and electrocution.”
CPSC filed the complaint under the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA). According to the complaint, Amazon acts as a “distributor,” as defined by CPSA, of its FBA products by: (a) receiving delivery of FBA consumer products from a merchant with the intent to distribute the product further; (b) holding, storing, sorting, and preparing for shipment FBA products in its warehouses and fulfillment centers; and (c) distributing FBA consumer products into commerce by delivering FBA products directly to consumers or to common carriers for delivery to consumers.
The complaint states that after CPSC notified Amazon about the hazards presented by the specified products, Amazon took “several unilateral actions,” including:
According to the complaint, these actions “are insufficient to remediate the hazards posed by the Subject Products and do not constitute a fully effectuated Section 15 mandatory corrective action ordered by” CPSC. The complaint states that “[a] Section 15 order requiring Amazon to take additional actions in conjunction with the CPSC as a distributor is necessary for public safety.” The complaint asks CPSC to:
CPSC “urges consumers to visit SaferProducts.gov to check for recalls prior to purchasing products and to report any incidents or injuries to the CPSC.” CPSC published the complaint in the July 21, 2021, Federal Register. 86 Fed. Reg. 38450.
In CPSC’s July 14, 2021, press release, Acting Chair Robert Adler states that the decision to file an administrative complaint is “a huge step across a vast desert -- we must grapple with how to deal with these massive third-party platforms more efficiently, and how best to protect the American consumers who rely on them.” According to The Washington Post, CPSC issued the administrative complaint “after months of behind-the-scenes negotiations between regulators and Amazon as the agency tried to persuade the company to follow the CPSC’s rules for getting dangerous products off the market, according to a senior agency official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment on internal discussions.” This same official stated that “Amazon officials refused to acknowledge that the CPSC has the authority to compel the company to remove unsafe products.”
As reported in our February 16, 2018, blog item, “EPA Settles with Amazon on Distribution of Unregistered Pesticides,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Amazon entered into a Consent Agreement and Final Order (CAFO) whereby Amazon agreed to pay $1,215,700 in civil penalties for approximately 4,000 alleged violations under Section 3 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for the distribution of unregistered pesticide products. EPA later issued stop sale, use, or removal orders (SSURO) to Amazon and eBay for selling certain pesticide products that EPA claims are unregistered, misbranded, or restricted-use pesticides, and pesticide devices that EPA asserts make false or misleading claims. More information on the SSURO is available in our June 17, 2020, blog item, “EPA Issues Stop Sale, Use, or Removal Orders to Amazon and eBay for Unregistered and Misbranded Pesticides and Devices, Including Products with Claims Related to COVID-19.”
As reported in our October 9, 2020, blog item, Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, requested that Amazon Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chair Jeff Bezos launch an investigation into the safety of Amazon’s product line, AmazonBasics, and answer a series of questions pertaining to the company’s product safety and recall practices. The Committee’s October 7, 2020, press release notes that the request comes after a CNN investigation found that many of AmazonBasics’ electronic products “have exploded, caught fire, sparked, melted, or otherwise created hazardous situations at rates well above comparable products.” According to the press release, many of these products were never recalled and continue to be sold.
CPSC’s administrative complaint is just the latest indication of the pressure on Amazon to ensure the safety of the products the platform hosts. These federal agency and Congressional efforts will almost certainly cause more pressure on product manufacturers to ensure the products they offer for sale on Amazon are compliant with the relevant regulations.
On July 12, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in the Federal Register a notice of availability of a petition filed on April 8, 2021, by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) requesting that EPA cancel Elanco US Inc.’s (formerly Bayer Healthcare LLC) Product, PNR1427, more commonly known as Seresto (Petition). 86 Fed. Reg. 36546. The Petition also requests that EPA suspend the registration pending the requested cancellation. Seresto has been registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) since 2012 for flea and tick treatment on adult dogs and puppies and on adult cats and kittens.
Comments on the Petition are due on or before September 10, 2021, in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2021-0409.
Under FIFRA Section 6(b), EPA may cancel a pesticide product’s registration if it appears to EPA that the pesticide, “when used in accordance with widespread and commonly recognized practice, generally causes unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.” In its Petition, CBD states that, “according to a recent aggregate incident summary report, since this product was introduced in 2012, EPA has received over 75,000 adverse incident reports, including at least 1,698 reports linking the use of this product to pet deaths and at least 700 involving human harm.” CBD states this product “contains as active ingredients the neonicotinoid imidacloprid (10%) and the pyrethroid flumethrin (4.5%).” CBD states further, “Understanding each of these ingredients, alone and in combination, is important for understanding the toxicity and risks that their use in Seresto presents to dogs, cats, humans, and exposed threatened and endangered species.” With regard to imidacloprid, CBD states in its Petition, “Neonicotinoids like imidacloprid are most well-known for the harms they cause to pollinator species, including threatened and endangered pollinators like the Poweshiek skipperling (endangered), Dakota skipper (threatened), and rusty patched bumble bee (endangered).” The Petition discusses several studies and EPA risk assessments related to both ingredients, as well as what it describes as the “synergistic effects” of the combination of imidacloprid and flumethrin. CBD argues that Seresto poses an unreasonable risk to human health, pets, and the environment and that EPA should cancel the registration pursuant to FIFRA Section 6(b).
CBD additionally argues that EPA should suspend the registration, asserting that EPA can suspend a pesticide’s registration under FIFRA Section 6(c)(1) when such action is necessary to prevent an “imminent hazard” during the time required for cancellation. The standard to be met to be considered an imminent hazard is high, as “imminent hazard” is defined under FIFRA Section 2(l) as “a situation which exists when the continued use of a pesticide during the time required for [a] cancellation proceeding would be likely to result in unreasonable adverse effects on the environment or will involve unreasonable hazard to the survival of a species declared endangered or threatened.” CBD argues that suspension is warranted in this case because, CDC asserts, both criteria for an imminent hazard are satisfied -- CDC asserts that the products at issue pose both “ongoing and imminent unreasonable adverse effects on the environment and unreasonable hazard to the survival of the endangered rusty patched bumble bee, as well as other imperiled pollinators).”
This Petition is one prong in a larger effort by certain groups to halt sales and use of Seresto. EPA’s press release statements indicate that EPA shares some concerns raised by the petitioners, at least with regard to incidents involving pets. EPA further stated in its press release that it is reviewing additional information requested by EPA from the current and former registrant regarding these incidents, and that it will use that information “along with any relevant information received during the public comment on this petition, to determine if any additional action is needed.” It will be important to monitor EPA’s review and response to this petition.
On July 8, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it issued a Stop Sale, Use or Removal Order (SSURO) to Allied BioScience for its product SurfaceWise2. SurfaceWise2, a residual antimicrobial surface coating, was previously authorized for emergency use in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas to help address the COVID-19 pandemic. Specific use sites included American Airlines aircraft and airport facilities and two orthopedic facilities in Texas. A discussion of these emergency authorizations can be found here.
EPA asserts that the company was marketing, selling, and distributing SurfaceWise2 in ways that were inconsistent with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the terms and conditions of the emergency exemption authorizations, and issued an SSURO that requires Allied BioScience to stop selling and distributing SurfaceWise2 immediately. The SSURO will remain in effect unless revoked, terminated, suspended, or modified in writing by EPA.
Additionally, EPA states that it is revoking SurfaceWise2 emergency exemptions for Arkansas and Texas based on the FIFRA violations that EPA is alleging and scientific concerns regarding product performance. According to EPA, since January, new data became available that led EPA to review comprehensively new and existing information regarding product efficacy. EPA states that its laboratory testing indicates the product’s performance is less reliable under real-world conditions than, presumably, data that EPA previously reviewed may have indicated to EPA, particularly when it is exposed to moisture or abrasion.
In May 2021, EPA received a revocation request from Oklahoma indicating the emergency situation was no longer applicable in the state. EPA stated that it is accepting Oklahoma’s rationale and revoking the state’s emergency exemption on those grounds. This action is in addition to revoking the emergency exemptions for Arkansas and Texas.
EPA initially approved in August 2020 the emergency exemptions for SurfaceWise2 for specific locations under Section 18 of FIFRA for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, on surfaces for up to seven days. In January 2021, EPA announced approval of extensions for the first-ever long-lasting antiviral product for use against SARS-CoV-2, with claims providing residual surface control of coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, for up to 30 days on undisturbed (e.g., not routinely disinfected with List N products) non-porous treated surfaces. These approvals were novel and touted by EPA in its effort to combat the coronavirus. It is not unusual for EPA to issue an SSURO to stop sales for a product that is being marketed, sold, and distributed in a manner inconsistent with its label, but the issuance of an SSURO in this instance is noteworthy given EPA’s prior support of the product. Likewise, the fact that EPA conducted its own efficacy testing on this product is atypical. The implications of EPA’s conducting its own testing of the product could potentially have broader implications for novel antimicrobial products claiming long-term efficacy. Additionally noteworthy is the fact that this case emphasizes again EPA’s view that products intended to combat COVID-19 on surfaces are not in need of emergency or expedited approvals.
On July 2, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is taking action to alleviate a supply-chain issue facing the pesticide industry. EPA stated that it is allowing registrants of non-antimicrobial pesticide products to substitute some combination of pre-approved alternate inert ingredients for inert ingredients derived from propylene oxide feedstocks that are in limited supply due to weather events that occurred in the U.S. Gulf Coast area in February 2021. EPA stated that it is allowing these substitutions even in cases where propylene glycol is added to the formulation or is part of a brand-name mixture in which the full composition is known to the registrant.
The pre-approved alternates are glycerin (Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number (CAS RN) 56-81-5); diethylene glycol (CAS RN 111-46-6); ethylene glycol (CAS RN 107-21-1); and 1,3-propanediol (CAS RN 504-63-2).
EPA emphasizes that this action, known as “Propylene Glycol Phase 2 -- ‘Not In-Kind’ Substitution Mechanism,” relates only to non-antimicrobial pesticide products and that EPA will handle “not in-kind” substitutions for antimicrobial pesticide products on a case-by-case basis.
In April 2021, EPA implemented “Propylene Glycol Phase 1 -- ‘In-Kind’ Substitution Mechanism” to allow certain in-kind substitutions to address propylene glycol supply-chain shortages.
These actions require registrants to self-certify that the substitute inert ingredients serve the same function in the product as propylene glycol and that the change will not impact either the validity of any product-specific data submitted in support of the registration or the product’s acute toxicity category or physical/chemical characteristics in a way that would require label modifications. Registrants must also certify that the substitution will not affect the product’s fitness for its intended purposes in terms of efficacy, phytotoxicity, or any other factor.
This action is time limited, extending to December 31, 2021. Any registrants who wish to make the substitution permanent will have to go through the standard amendment process outlined in Pesticide Registration Notice (PRN) 98-10.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have received a draft assessment of glyphosate carried out by four European Union (EU) member states and have begun to consider the findings. According to ECHA’s June 15, 2021, press release, the national authorities of France, Hungary, the Netherlands, and Sweden -- known as the Assessment Group of Glyphosate (AGG) -- examined all the evidence submitted by the companies that are seeking renewed approval to market the glyphosate in the EU. Glyphosate is currently authorized for use in the EU until December 2022.
ECHA and EFSA will organize parallel consultations on the draft report. These will be open to the public and will be held in the first week of September 2021. According to ECHA, the consultations are the first step in the assessments. ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) will review the classification of glyphosate under the Classification, Labeling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation. ECHA notes that chemical classification is based solely on the hazardous properties of a substance and does not consider the likelihood of exposure. Exposure is considered as part of the risk assessment process led by EFSA.
Glyphosate currently has a harmonized classification as causing serious eye damage and as toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects, prior to and following ECHA’s 2017 assessment. ECHA states that no classification for germ cell mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, or reproductive toxicity was warranted. The AGG proposal does not foresee a change to the existing classification.
Once ECHA adopts its opinion on the classification of glyphosate, EFSA will prepare a final peer review and publish its conclusions, expected in late 2022. Based on this risk assessment, the European Commission (EC) will decide whether to renew glyphosate.
PMRA Issues Interim Order to Regulate Certain UV Radiation-emitting and Ozone-generating Devices under the Pest Control Products Act
On June 7, 2021, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) announced the issuance of its Interim Order Respecting Ultraviolet Radiation-emitting Devices and Ozone-generating Devices under the Pest Control Products Act (Interim Order), setting forth new requirements for certain devices claiming to control, destroy, make inactive, or reduce the level of bacteria, viruses, and other micro-organisms that are human pathogens. PMRA also issued an “Explanatory Note” and a Questions and Answers document regarding the Interim Order.
PMRA states that it issued the Interim Order following the increased sale of ultraviolet (UV) radiation-emitting and ozone-generating devices such as lights and wands in Canada since the COVID-19 pandemic. These devices are marketed to kill bacteria and viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. According to PMRA, it has not received enough evidence to confirm that UV radiation-emitting and ozone-generating devices are safe for users and the public, or that they are effective.
Thus, PMRA is now requiring that companies register certain UV radiation-emitting devices and ozone-generating devices before they may be sold or used in Canada. In its Explanatory Note, PMRA states:
The Interim Order clarifies that certain UV radiation-emitting devices and ozone-generating devices claiming to kill bacteria and viruses are not subject to the regulatory requirements of the PCPA and its Regulations. These include:
For UV radiation-emitting devices that satisfy these conditions, there are additional labeling requirements for the display panels and operating manual.
This Interim Order changes significantly the requirements applicable to these types of devices that did not previously require registration. PMRA is providing a 30-day transition period after the Interim Order is issued before companies must comply with these requirements. PMRA also is advising Canadians to “stop using UV lights and wands that claim to disinfect against the virus that causes COVID-19 especially if the product is for use on the skin.”
Companies that produce devices that may be subject to this Interim Order should review the new requirements and exemptions carefully. PMRA states that unregistered or unauthorized devices are prohibited and may be subject to compliance and enforcement action.
EPA Announces It Will Host a Webinar on Electronic Gold Seal Letter Process for Exporting Pesticides
On June 4, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will host a webinar for pesticide registrants to provide registrants an overview on how to request Certificates of Registration, commonly known as Gold Seal letters, using the Pesticide Submission Portal. Gold Seal letters serve as proof for pesticide exporters that the product is registered with EPA and meets all necessary registration requirements.
According to EPA, since launching the digital platform in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the electronic process has resulted in quicker processing of Gold Seal letters and thorough and complete internal tracking. Due to continuing safety precautions within EPA, it is still unable to produce traditional, paper-based Gold Seal letters. Accordingly, registrants must continue to submit requests through the Pesticide Submission Portal.
Stakeholders interested in attending the presentation can click here to join the online meeting (registration is not required). The webinar will be held on June 14, 2021, at 1:00 p.m. (EDT).
Information on how to request a Gold Seal certificate letter, including information on how registrants should present the letters to the U.S. Department of State when authentication is needed for business purposes, is available here.
On May 10, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the launch of an electronic Confidential Statement of Formula application (eCSF builder) to support pesticide registration applications. The new electronic tool is part of EPA’s interest in improving and modernizing the internal processes and digital workflows for pesticide registration submissions.
As part of the registration process for new pesticide products, EPA requires the submission of a Confidential Statement of Formula (CSF). The form lists all the product’s components and percent by weight, along with various additional information.
Currently, CSF applications must be submitted to EPA in hard copy. The new eCSF builder will automatically validate certain data in a CSF application prior to submission to EPA. EPA states this functionality, along with real-time validation of chemical ingredients through EPA’s Substance Registry Services, will make the pesticide registration process more efficient, saving EPA and registrants time and resources. While paper CSF forms remain available, EPA encourages submitting applications electronically, as the review of paper applications could be a longer process.
Users can access the eCSF builder on the Central Data Exchange (CDX) under Pre-Submission Tools, Form Builders, by clicking the Create eCSF button. Users can provide feedback to EPA through the CDX.
Additional information is available on our blog.