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By Lisa M. Campbell, Lisa R. Burchi, and Barbara A. Christianson

On November 2, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the proposed rule to add chitosan (Poly-D-Glucosamine) to its list of active ingredients eligible for EPA’s minimum risk pesticide exemption under Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 25(b).  85 Fed. Reg. 69307.

The proposed rule is in response to a petition submitted to EPA on October 10, 2018, requesting that chitosan be added to the list of active ingredients eligible for EPA’s minimum risk exemption, followed by an April 4 2019, amended petition seeking also to add chitosan to the list of inert ingredients eligible for the minimum risk exemption.  EPA on August 20, 2020, issued a Federal Register notice stating that a draft regulatory document on this issue had been forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  EPA states that no comments were submitted on that notice by USDA or any other person.  EPA also forwarded the draft to the FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel for review, but according to EPA, the Panel “waived review of this proposed rule, concluding that the proposed rule does not contain scientific issues that warrant scientific review by the Panel.”  On October 8, 2020, EPA again announced it was considering adding chitosan to the list of active ingredients allowed for use in minimum risk pesticides and provided a pre-publication version of the proposed rule.

EPA states in the November 2, 2020, Federal Register notice regarding the proposed rule: “Based on all the information available to the Agency, there are low risk concerns for human health or the environment if chitosan is intended for use as a minimum risk pesticide.”  According to EPA, adding chitosan to this list may save stakeholders time and money through waived FIFRA registration requirements for certain products containing chitosan.  Specifically, EPA estimates the cost savings of avoiding the application process (e.g., guideline studies, registration fees) to be up to $116,000 initially and approximately $3,400 per year thereafter for each new product.

Comments on EPA’s proposal to add chitosan to its list of active ingredients for use on minimum risk pesticides are due on or before January 4, 2021, in Docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2019-0701.   EPA states that it is currently deferring a decision regarding the amended petition to add chitosan to the list of inert ingredients permitted in minimum risk pesticides.

Additional information on chitosan is available on our blog.


 

By Lisa M. Campbell, James V. Aidala, Lisa R. Burchi, and Barbara A. Christianson

On August 20, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is seeking to add chitosan to the list of active ingredients allowed for in minimum risk pesticides exempted from pesticide registration requirements under Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 25(b).  A minimum risk product must meet six specific conditions to be exempted from pesticide registration.  One of those conditions is that the active ingredient in the minimum risk pesticide be one that is listed specifically by EPA.  If added to the list of minimum risk pesticide active ingredients, pesticide products containing chitosan could qualify as minimum risk pesticides provided the other conditions are also satisfied (e.g., using inert ingredients approved by EPA for use in minimum risk pesticides, not making any public health claims).

Chitosan is a naturally occurring polymer that is derived from the shells of crustaceans.  It is currently registered as a fungicide, antimicrobial agent, and plant growth regulator that boosts the ability of plants to defend against fungal infections.  For uses as a plant growth regulator, chitosan is applied to treat field crops, ornamentals, turf, home gardens, and nurseries.  Target pests include early and late blight, downy and powdery mildew, and gray mold.  As an antimicrobial agent, chitosan is used on textiles to protection the fabric from bacterial and fungal growth.  Chitosan is exempt from the requirement for a pesticide tolerance.

History -- The Caesar Salad Chemicals

The origin of the Section 25(b) list came from an effort by EPA to deregulate products which, while meeting the definition of being a pesticide (a product with the intended purpose of being sold or distributed to kill or repel a pest as defined under FIFRA), were common products of established safety.  More precisely, products with a lack of toxicity such that it was a “waste of resources” for EPA to subject such products to the bureaucratic requirements of FIFRA registration.

In particular, at an oversight Congressional hearing on the lack of progress being made at the time on EPA’s attempt to complete re-registration (now referred to as registration review), the EPA witness was asked about some most recently released re-registration assessments.  These referred to the four registered pesticides:  garlic, capsicum, acetic acid, and citric acid.  These are pesticides formulated into various products, and in the hearing were referred to by more common names: garlic, pepper, vinegar, and lemon juice.  This led to a famous oversight question to the EPA witness:  “Are you making progress or Caesar Salad?”

This led, in part, to the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) allowing very low risk pesticides to be exempt from registration.  It eventually issued the original Section 25(b) list to conserve review resources.  At the same time, since these products no longer had to be registered, it allowed label language such as “natural,” “non-toxic,” and “safe around children and pets,” which are disallowed registered product label claims.  Not surprisingly, label language allowing the word “safe” has proven to be a popular marketing claim for products that meet the exemption requirements.

At the same time, the fine print of the Section 25(b) exemption did not allow health and safety claims on such products even if they were made from Section 25(b) ingredients.  In particular, this led to concerns about insect repellents that could be made from Section 25(b) ingredients and were labeled as repelling mosquitoes or ticks or other public health pests; they could include the word “safe” as long they did not also mention any disease or other public health claims.  The average consumer, however, likely does not distinguish between insect repellents (or other products) that fit EPA’s definition of public health claims and those simply listing the target pest (e.g., mosquitoes, ticks, or rodents).  The average consumer is unlikely to realize the distinction between a product labeled as “XX insect repellent -- repels mosquitoes -- all natural and safe,” which may not have evidence of efficacy, and another product that says “YY insect repellent -- made from natural ingredients and repels mosquitoes, which may carry West Nile Virus” -- which is required to be registered and include proof of efficacy for any public health claims.

This possible consumer confusion was the subject of a FIFRA petition filed in 2006 by the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA).  The petition suggests that EPA modify the Section 25(b) regulation to exclude products claiming to control public health pests from the Section 25(b) exemption -- which would then require registration, including data proving efficacy (Docket: EPA-HQ-OPP-2006-0687-0002).

EPA responded to the CSPA petition in 2007, essentially agreeing about the problem of possible consumer confusion.  In a letter to CSPA, EPA stated:

…. whether we decide to pursue rulemaking or some other avenue, we intend to move as expeditiously as possible to identify the most efficient approach to protect the public from unknowingly relying on products that target public health pests and have not been shown to work.

EPA later announced that it would embark on rulemaking to address this possible consumer confusion.  It is, however, unclear whether this is still a pending matter on EPA’s agenda.  No docket materials have been added in many years.  As part of its Semiannual Regulatory Agenda in fall 2011, EPA included an entry that stated a Section 25(b) proposed rule would be issued before February 2013.  It is not clear if EPA continues to have plans to issue such a proposal.

Commentary

EPA’s August 20 proposal is an interesting development, as EPA’s other revisions and proposals for minimum risk pesticides trend toward adding restrictions to the conditions to be satisfied, thus limiting exemptions.  The current proposal would expand the exemptions by adding another active ingredient to the otherwise limited approved list.  Since changes to the Section 25(b) list will require a rulemaking, it is unclear what happened to the earlier plan to issue a proposed rule addressing the long-ago CSPA petition response.

EPA states that it has forwarded to the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) a draft regulatory document concerning “Pesticides; Addition of Chitosan to the List of Active Ingredients Allowed in Exempted Minimum Risk Pesticides Products.”  EPA will not make this draft regulatory document available to the public until after it has been signed.  When it is available, that document and additional information will be available in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2019-0701.


 

By Lisa M. Campbell and Lisa R. Burchi

The final rule revising the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations governing the minimum risk pesticide exemption from pesticide registration requirements was published in the Federal Register on December 28, 2015.  The revisions include codifying the inert ingredients list and adding specific chemical identifiers, where available, for all active and inert ingredients permitted in products eligible for the minimum risk pesticide exemption.  Labeling requirements for minimum risk pesticides are also revised to require manufacturers to list ingredients on product labels with a designated label display name and to provide the producer’s contact information on the products’ labels.  EPA states that the revisions are intended to “clarify the terms of the original exemption and to provide additional clarity and transparency concerning the ingredients that are currently used in exempted products.”  Information regarding the proposed rule that was issued on December 31, 2012, is available in our memorandum entitled EPA Proposes Revisions to Minimum Risk Exemption for Pesticides.

The final rule will become effective on February 26, 2016.  The compliance date for the new label requirements is February 26, 2019

Under the revised regulations, the minimum risk exemption requirements are as follows:

  • Condition 1:  The product's active ingredients must be only those that are listed in 40 C.F.R. Section 152.25(f)(1).  Previously, the regulations included only the names of the active ingredients.  Under the newly revised reguations, the new Table 1 includes the “Label Display Name,” the “Chemical Name,” any “Specifications,” and the Chemical Abstracts Services Registry Number (CAS No.). 
    • In response to comments, EPA restored two active ingredients inadvertently omitted from the proposed rule (sodium chloride and ground sesame plant) and clarified how “mint and mint oils” are listed.  EPA also has changed the name of one active ingredient from cedar oil to cedarwood oil and clarified its chemical names and CAS Nos.
    • EPA removed United States Pharmacopeia (USP) specifications for 19 active ingredients because such specifications would have removed technical grade active ingredients that are currently eligible but do not meet USP specifications, and EPA states that it did not intend with this rule to add or remove substances from the ingredients list.  The USP specification for castor oil remains since that was part of the original active ingredient list.

 

  • Condition 2:  Prior to these revisions, EPA’s regulations stated that a product's inert ingredients may be only those that have been classified by EPA as:  (1) List 4A “Inert Ingredients of Minimal Concern”; (2) commonly consumed food commodities, animal feed items, and edible fats and oils as described in 40 C.F.R. Sections 180.950(a), (b), and (c); and (3) certain chemical substances listed under 40 C.F.R. Section 180.950(e).  The final rule codifies, at 40 C.F.R. Section 152.25(f)(2)(iv), a list of inert ingredients permitted in minimum risk pesticide products.  The codified list at Table 2 includes the “Label Display Name,” the “Chemical Name,” and the Chemical Abstract Services Registry Number (CAS No.). 
    • In response to comments, EPA removed from the “Label Display Name” certain bracketed language intended to provide clarifying language, for example, “safety limitations on certain inert ingredients such as vinegar (maximum 8% acetic acid in solutions) to chemical formulas for inert ingredients such as calcite (Ca(CO3)).”  This bracketed language remains in the Chemical Name column to assist manufacturers in correctly identifying inert ingredients eligible for the exemption.
    • As it did with respect to active ingredients, EPA states that this rule is not intended to add or remove any inert ingredients.  EPA states that it is considering developing guidance to describe the petition process and types of information EPA would need to add or delete an inert ingredient from this list.

 

  • Condition 3:  Previously, EPA required that all of the ingredients (both active and inert) be listed on the label, with active ingredient(s) listed by name and percentage by weight and each inert ingredient listed by name only.  Under the provisions of the newly promulgated rule, the label must include the following:  (1) the “Label Display Name” for each active ingredient with its percentage by weight; (2) the “Label Display Name” for each inert ingredient; (3) “prominent” display of the name of the producer or the company for whom the product was produced; and (4) “prominent” display of contact information (i.e., street address including zip code and telephone number) for the producer/company listed.

 

  • Condition 4:  The label cannot include any false or misleading statements.  The final rule does not propose any explicit changes to this condition, but some new changes may affect the requirements necessary to meet this condition.  For example, under the newly promulgated revisions, while all active and inert ingredients may be used in non-food use products, “food and animal feed in commerce can bear pesticide residues only for those ingredients that have tolerances or tolerance exemptions in part 180 of this chapter.”  Regarding requirement, EPA states:
    • EPA is not attempting to enforce adherence to the labels of minimum risk pesticides, which as noted cannot be done for pesticides subject to 40 CFR 152.25(f).  Rather, the Agency is assisting minimum risk pesticide producers in ensuring that the use directions on the product do not cause the label to be false or misleading.  An exemption from FIFRA requirements under section 25(b) of the statute, including the minimum risk exemption at 40 CFR 152.25(f), cannot exempt pesticides from the requirements of a tolerance or tolerance exemption under FFDCA.  Under FFDCA, any pesticide chemical residue to be used in or on foods in commerce in the United States must have either an established tolerance or tolerance exemption.  When a minimum risk product explicitly states on its label that it can be used in or on food or food-use sites in commerce, but one or more of the ingredients does not have an established tolerance or tolerance exemption, the label is indicating that the product may be used in a way that would violate Federal law.  Such a label is therefore false or misleading.

 

  • Condition 5:  The product must not bear claims either to control or mitigate organisms that pose a threat to human health, or to control insects or rodents carrying specific diseases.  The final rule does not change this condition.

EPA states that it intends the newly promulgated revisions to assist manufacturers, the public, and federal, state, and tribal inspectors in determining whether a chemical substance can be used in a minimum risk product (i.e., is eligible for the exemption) as well as to provide improved clarity and transparency for consumers who want more information about the ingredients used in a product.  EPA also hopes that requiring company contact information on labels will provide further transparency and accountability should an adverse event occur during the use of a minimum risk pesticide product.

EPA has determined that the total cost for industry to comply with the labeling requirements of this rulemaking is approximately $800,000, under a three-year implementation period.  The three-year implementation period was extended from the two-year proposed implementation plan in response to comments that “[s]ince most companies update their labels every three years…a rule implementation period of three years will allow most companies to meet the labeling requirements of the rule as part of their normal labeling practices and will therefore keep industry costs to a minimum.” 

EPA’s recently updated minimum risk pesticides webpage includes guidance on pesticide tolerances for minimum risk ingredients and provides alternative formats of the active and inert ingredient lists that may be more suitable for some users.  EPA states that it intends to include additional guidance, as needed, such as labeling guidance for minimum risk pesticides and how to request additional ingredients to be added or removed from the minimum risk exemption shortly after the final rule becomes effective.  


 

By Lisa M. Campbell and Margaret R. Graham

On June 24, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notification that the EPA Administrator has forwarded to the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) a draft regulatory document concerning the draft final rule entitled ''Pesticides; Revisions to Minimum Risk Exemption.'' This notice states that the draft final rule will not be available to the public until after it has been signed and made available to EPA. Sections 25(a)(2)(B) and 21(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires the EPA Administrator to provide to the Secretary of USDA and the Secretary of HHS a copy of any draft final rule at least 30 days before signing it in final form for publication in the Federal Register; EPA must only provide any draft final rules pertaining to public health pesticides, however, to HHS.

The Spring 2015 Regulatory Agenda stated that EPA is developing the final rule related to revisions it proposed in December 2012: "Specifically, EPA proposed to more clearly describe the active and inert ingredients permitted in products eligible for the exemption from regulation for minimum risk pesticides. These lists would be reorganized by adding specific chemical identifiers that would make it clearer which ingredients are permitted in minimum risk pesticide products. No ingredients would be added or removed from the exemption. The label requirements in the exemption would also be modified to require the use of specific common chemical names in lists of ingredients on minimum risk pesticide product labels, and to require producer contact information on the label. These changes are intended to maintain the availability of minimum risk pesticide products while providing more consistent information for consumers, clearer regulations for producers, and easier identification by states, tribes and EPA as to whether a product is in compliance with the exemption."  Further information regarding the proposed rule is available in Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.'s (B&C®) memorandum entitled EPA Proposes Revisions to Minimum Risk Exemption for Pesticides.