By Lisa R. Burchi
On October 7, 2021, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 announced a settlement with Reckitt Benckiser, LLC (Reckitt Benckiser) regarding alleged violations under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The specific alleged violations relate to 239 sales and distributions of two rodenticide products in the United States that EPA asserts had misleading advertising claims on the packaging. Reckitt Benckiser has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $458,000 under the settlement to resolve these violations.
Reckitt Benckiser is a supplemental distributor of two rodenticide products that are bait stations registered under FIFRA to kill mice. EPA states that in 2019, it conducted inspections of a Home Depot in South Plainfield, New Jersey, and Reckitt Benckiser’s offices in Parsippany, New Jersey. EPA thereafter determined that Reckitt Benckiser was selling these two rodenticide products in packaging or labeling that made comparative claims as to the effectiveness of the product. Specifically, the packaging stated that the products were “10x Tastier Than Lead Competitor.” The labels EPA approved for the two products did not contain this comparative claim language, and at the time of registration, data associated with the products’ claims were never provided. EPA’s regulations at 40 C.F.R. Section 156.10(a)(5)(iv) provide that statements or representations in the labeling which constitute misbranding include a “false or misleading comparison with other pesticides or devices.” EPA states that because "the comparative claims were not subject to verification, they were ‘false and misleading comparisons’ prohibited under [FIFRA].”
This case serves as another reminder to registrants and supplemental distributors to review all labeling and advertising claims to ensure conformity with EPA-approved labels and avoidance of claims that EPA identifies as false or misleading.
By Heather F. Collins, M.S. and Barbara A. Christianson
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.
By Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on May 6, 2021, that Bear River Supply Inc., based in Rio Oso, California, has agreed to pay a $50,578 penalty to resolve EPA’s findings that the Company produced pesticides in an unregistered establishment, distributed and sold misbranded pesticides, and failed to maintain equipment properly. According to EPA, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) and EPA discovered the violations during a series of inspections conducted at two separate facilities in Rio Oso. Inspectors found that “Vistaspray 440 Spray Oil” and “Roundup PowerMax” were being repackaged and distributed with improper labeling. In addition, EPA states, inspectors determined that Bear River Supply was producing pesticides in a facility that was not registered with EPA. While at the facilities, inspectors also found that a secondary containment unit and loading pad, both used to contain potential spills, were inadequate. The Company has since corrected the violations.
Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), pesticide manufacturers must register their facilities with EPA and annually report their pesticide production. EPA states that production records provide information on the quantities of pesticides produced and distributed. EPA notes that in addition, the number assigned to the establishment must appear on the label. FIFRA’s reporting and labeling requirements allow EPA and state agencies to track pesticide products back to the companies that produced them and “are necessary to ensure safe management and distribution” of pesticides.
By Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on April 19, 2021, that Univar Solutions USA, Inc. of Portland, Oregon, will pay a $165,000 penalty for violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) when it failed to label properly its “Woodlife 111” pesticide, which is used as a wood preservative. EPA notes that under FIFRA, “a pesticide is misbranded if, ‘the labeling accompanying it does not contain directions for use which are necessary … to protect health and the environment’ and if ‘…the label does not contain a warning or caution statement which may be necessary … to protect health and the environment.’” According to the press release, EPA alleged that between approximately January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2018, Woodlife 111 labels “omitted several required sections important for the protection of the handler and for the environment, including user safety requirements, first aid directions, use of personal protective equipment, and portions of the storage and disposal section.” EPA states that it cited the company for 33 FIFRA violations when Univar sold and distributed the misbranded pesticide via bulk shipments. According to the press release, the case resulted from a March 5, 2019, inspection of the Univar facility by the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s EPA-credentialed inspectors.
By Lisa M. Campbell, Heather F. Collins, M.S., and Barbara A. Christianson
On December 10, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new policy that will allow registrants of antimicrobial pesticide products voluntarily to disclose all inert ingredients more efficiently in response to the request of retailers, states, and industry.
Registrants who wish to disclose all inert ingredient can choose to do so in three ways under the new policy:
- On the product label as part of the full ingredient statement or on the product’s back or side panel with a referral to the full ingredient statement;
- On a website referenced on the product label; or
- On a website that is not directly linked to the product label.
EPA states that it will allow registrants to use alternate nomenclature to disclose inert ingredients. This policy is effective as of January 16, 2021.
EPA states that there is no statutory or regulatory requirement to identify inert ingredients in the ingredient statement, except when EPA determines that such inert ingredients may pose a hazard to humans or the environment. EPA states that if EPA determines an inert ingredient may pose a hazard, EPA may determine that the name of the inert ingredient must be listed in the ingredient statement on a case-by-case basis for either risk-based or hazard-based reasons. Examples include the following ingredients:
- Petroleum distillates, xylene, or xylene range aromatic solvents > 10%;
- Sodium nitrate > 0.1%; or
- Inert ingredients of toxicological concern (formerly known as “List 1 Inerts”).
EPA’s long-standing policy, as stated in its Label Review Manual, has been that “if a registrant wants to list a particular inert ingredient in the ingredient statement, the registrant should list all inert ingredients directly below the ingredient statement in descending order by weight. A partial listing on the label could be misleading.” EPA’s new policy applies to voluntary identification of inert ingredients using alternate nomenclature and not to cases where EPA directs registrants to list particular inert ingredients because of risk-based or hazard-based reasons.
EPA states that beginning December 15, 2020, the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) will review antimicrobial pesticide applications for voluntary inert ingredient disclosure. Under this new process, EPA states that if a registrant chooses to utilize alternate chemical nomenclature on its product labeling, the registrant must resubmit the Confidential Statement of Formula (CSF) containing the inert ingredient as approved on the existing formulation as well as the alternate chemical nomenclature. EPA requires that a “crosswalk” between the approved nomenclature of the CSF and the alternate nomenclature be provided with the registrants’ non-Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act (PRIA 4) application, which will fall under a 90-day review.
If registrants choose to use alternate nomenclature, EPA encourages using the following sources:
If a registrant chooses to disclose voluntarily inert ingredients on the label, the registrant should list all of the inert ingredients directly below the ingredient statement in descending order by weight, so that the list does not interfere with the required labeling information. If space is limited, however, to avoid crowding of required labeling information, a referral statement may be used directing the reader to the back or side panel for the full list of inert ingredients in descending order by weight. The referral statement should be placed directly below the ingredient statement with an asterisk or some other equivalent symbol connecting the “Inert Ingredients” or “Other Ingredients” heading in the ingredient statement with the full list of inert ingredients placed on the back or side panel of the label. For example, an acceptable referral statement is “*See back panel for complete inert ingredient statement,” and acceptable corresponding text on the back panel is “*Inert Ingredients: Inert A, Inert B., etc.”
When registrants choose to add a website address or quick response (QR) code to their labeling that leads to inert ingredient information, EPA asks that registrants, in a cover letter transmitting the labeling amendment application, self-certify that the inert ingredient information provided on the registrant’s website(s) and in other marketing materials is consistent with the information provided on the latest approved CSF.
EPA states that registrants do not need to amend its their master label or notify EPA before adding an inert ingredient statement to a website, provided that the site is not referenced on the product label. In such cases, the application process outlined below does not apply.
EPA states that no other actions should be included with inert ingredient disclosure applications. The following information is required to be included in the application:
- Applications to add alternate nomenclature to the label must:
- Crosswalk link the current CSF nomenclature to any alternate nomenclature as confirmation that the current CSF nomenclature and alternate nomenclature are synonyms of each other (the exact same inert ingredient). EPA provides a template spreadsheet for the alternate nomenclature crosswalk to link the current CSF nomenclature to any alternate inert ingredient nomenclature.
- Identify in the cover letter the proposed changes to the alternate nomenclature on product labels and CSFs, the revised CSF (which includes the current and alternate nomenclature) and master label with changes highlighted.
- For applications to add currently approved nomenclature to the label registrants should include with the application a cover letter identifying the proposed change(s) on product labels and master label with changes highlighted, including the following self-certification statement: “The inert ingredients voluntarily disclosed in the labeling for EPA Registration No. [add registration number], are accurate for the EPA-registered product listed above. No changes to the product formulation have been made. I certify that no other changes have been made to the labeling of this product. I understand that it is a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001 to willfully make any false statement to EPA. I further understand that if the information I have provided is misbranded as defined in section 2(q) of FIFRA, 7 U.S.C. 136(q), this product may be in violation of FIFRA and EPA may pursue enforcement actions under sections 12 and 14 of FIFRA, 7 U.S.C. 136(j) and 136(l).”
- For applications to add or change a website or QR code to include inert information, applicants must include a cover letter that identifies the proposed change(s) on product labels and master label with changes highlighted, including the following self-certification statement: “The inert ingredients voluntarily disclosed in the labeling for EPA Registration No. [add registration number], are accurate for the EPA-registered product listed above. No changes to the product formulation have been made. I certify that no other changes have been made to the labeling of this product. I understand that it is a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001 to willfully make any false statement to EPA. I further understand that if the information I have provided is misbranded as defined in section 2(q) of FIFRA, 7 U.S.C. 136(q), this product may be in violation of FIFRA and EPA may pursue enforcement actions under sections 12 and 14 of FIFRA, 7 U.S.C. 136(j) and 136(l).”
According to EPA, the scope of this policy is currently limited to antimicrobial pesticide products. EPA states that it may consider expanding to conventional pesticide and biopesticide products in the future.
Additional information is available here.
By Lisa M. Campbell, Timothy D. Backstrom, and Lisa R. Burchi
On June 22, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California granted summary judgment for the Plaintiffs in National Association of Wheat Growers et. al. v. Becerra, and entered a permanent injunction against enforcement of a Proposition 65 (Prop 65) warning label for pesticide products containing glyphosate. The court found that requiring the registrants of glyphosate products to include such a warning could not be justified as a valid restriction on commercial speech and therefore is contrary to the First Amendment of the Constitution. The same District Court had previously entered a preliminary injunction against the Prop 65 warning in 2018, and the required warning has consequently never been in effect. (See our February 28, 2018, blog entitled “Eastern District of California Rules on Motion to Enjoin Prop 65 Listing and Warning on Glyphosate Products.”) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also has stated that it would not allow a Prop 65 warning to be added to the labeling for any registered glyphosate product because such a warning is misleading and would cause the product to be “misbranded” under Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 2(q)(1)(A). (See our August 15, 2019, blog entitled “EPA Issues Guidance Regarding Prop 65 Labeling Requirements for Glyphosate Products and OEHHA Responds.”)
A Prop 65 warning is required when the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) determines that a product contains a substance that has been classified as a human carcinogen by certain authoritative bodies, including the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Based on an IARC determination that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic” in humans, OEHHA listed glyphosate in July 2017 as a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer, thereby triggering Prop 65 warning requirements. Despite the IARC determination, every other authoritative body that has considered the matter (including EPA, the European Commission, and the World Health Organization) has reached a contrary determination that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic in humans. California’s imposition of a Prop 65 warning for glyphosate was challenged in 2018 by the registrant Bayer and a coalition of farming groups and industry stakeholders, who obtained a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the warning.
Before entering the new permanent injunction, the District Court considered whether California’s regulation of commercial speech should be scrutinized under the lower standard set by the Supreme Court in Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel or the intermediate standard set by Central Hudson Gas & Electric v. Public Service Commission. The Zauderer standard only applies to mandatory disclosure of “purely factual and uncontroversial information,” and the Court found that the Prop 65 warning for glyphosate is “misleading” and therefore neither factual nor uncontroversial. Under the Central Hudson level of scrutiny, a governmental agency may only restrict commercial speech when the restriction directly advances an important governmental interest and where the restriction is not more extensive than necessary to serve that interest. The Court found that the Prop 65 warning for glyphosate is misleading, and therefore does not directly advance the interest of the state in informing consumers regarding potential cancer hazards, and that the asserted state interest could be effectively advanced by other measures that do not burden freedom of speech in the same manner.
California argued that no Prop 65 warning would actually be required for glyphosate in practice because OEHHA has set a quantitative “safe harbor” level for glyphosate exposure, but the court found that this would not prevent parties other than California from bringing separate enforcement actions to enforce the listing. Since a Prop 65 warning only needs to be “clear and reasonable,” California also proposed several alternative forms for a warning that would meet state requirements, but the court found these alternate warnings to all be misleading as well. Based on all of these factors, the court decided to enjoin permanently the enforcement of Prop 65 warning requirements for glyphosate as an unconstitutional burden on commercial speech.
Under FIFRA Section 24(b), no state may impose any labeling for a registered pesticide that differs from the labeling approved by EPA. Although EPA has sometimes been willing to accommodate state labeling requirements or preferences within the labeling approved under FIFRA, there are necessary limits to this practice. When label language sought by a state becomes misleading, approving it would also be expressly contrary to FIFRA. How much precedential effect this decision may have with respect to other state requirements for labeling in the future is an issue that registrants should monitor closely.
By Timothy D. Backstrom
On December 5, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) announced the availability of a revised interim registration review decision for use of sodium cyanide in the M-44 predator control device. The M-44 device is a restricted use pesticide (RUP) and may be used only by certified applicators in compliance with specific mandatory restrictions set forth on the label. Although the registration review process for sodium cyanide remains pending, EPA has decided to issue an interim decision for the M-44 device now to adopt new label restrictions intended to mitigate potential risks. The revised interim decision adopts two new restrictions and also modifies certain existing restrictions, which EPA states "will reduce the potential for unintended impacts on humans, pets, and other non-target animals.”
The M-44 predator control device uses a spring-loaded ejector to fire a capsule containing a single lethal capsule of sodium cyanide. The M-44 is used by livestock producers to control predators (primarily coyotes) that kill sheep, goats, and cattle. Registrations for the M-44 device are currently held by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and by five individual States (South Dakota, Texas, Montana, Wyoming, and New Mexico) where livestock predation has been a particular problem.
New or revised restrictions that will be incorporated in the approved labeling for the M-44 device include:
- Requiring a 600-foot buffer zone around residences where an M-44 cannot be used (except for a cooperating landowner who has given written permission).
- Requiring that the applicator notify occupants of all residences within a 0.5 mile radius (by face-to-face communication, person-to-person telephone communication, door hanger, or certified mail) prior to an M-44 placement.
- Increasing from 50 feet to 300 feet the distance from designated public paths and roads where M-44 use is prohibited.
- Requiring two elevated warning signs placed 15 feet from the M-44 device and facing the most likely directions of approach, instead of one elevated sign placed 25 feet from the device.
Livestock producers and State departments of agriculture contend that the M-44 device is essential to limit economic losses resulting from predation, which reportedly amount to hundreds of millions of dollars annually. In contrast, wildlife advocates have strongly opposed any continued use of the M-44 device. In 2017, WildEarth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned EPA to suspend and cancel all registrations for M-44 capsules, but EPA concluded that the petition did not contain substantial new information and denied the petition in 2018. Although the new and modified label restrictions adopted by EPA in the interim decision for the M-44 device are not likely to satisfy opponents, these changes should nonetheless reduce the likelihood that humans, pets, or other non-target species will be exposed to the M-44 capsules or the toxin they contain.
By Heather F. Collins, M.S.
On October 17, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Spanish Translation Guide for Pesticide Labeling resource for use by all, including pesticide registrants that choose to display parts of their pesticide product label in Spanish. The purpose of the guide is to be a resource for the translation of the health and safety sections on pesticide labeling from English to Spanish. EPA states that the “guide is written in a universal form of Spanish to reach as many Spanish speakers as possible.”
While translating pesticide labels is not a requirement, EPA generally allows pesticide registrants to translate their product labels into any language so long as there is an EPA-accepted English version of the label and the translation is true and accurate. The guide is not intended to substitute for or eliminate the pesticide labels in English. An English version of all required labeling text is needed for all pesticide products in accordance with 40 C.F.R. Section 156.10(a)(3).
The guide provides translations for standard language typically used in the health and safety sections of pesticide product labels such as the:
- First aid and precautionary statement label language;
- Signal words;
- Misuse statements;
- Storage and pesticide container disposal instructions;
- Personal protection equipment label statements; and
- Worker Protection Standard agricultural use requirements.
EPA states that it “developed the Spanish translation guide in response to feedback from stakeholders who believe that having bilingual pesticide labeling is critical to the well-being of pesticide handlers, applicators, and farmworkers, many of whom do not speak English as a first language.”
The English statement appears in the left-hand column and the corresponding Spanish translation is available in the right-hand column of the guide. EPA states that the “guide will help registrants maintain accurate, consistent translations on product labels and ease their burden when adding Spanish translations.”
By Lisa M. Campbell and Timothy D. Backstrom
On August 23, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Federal Register notice announcing the receipt of 10 applications to amend currently registered pesticide products to add hemp as a new use site. The 10 application amendments are the result of the 2018 Farm Bill, signed in to law on December 20, 2018, that removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and legalized commercial use and production of hemp that contains less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
EPA states in the notice that Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 3(c)(4) does not require EPA to provide notice and opportunity to comment concerning these 10 applications because hemp falls within the terrestrial outdoor and residential outdoor use pattern previously approved for the pesticidal active ingredients in question, and approval of the applications would therefore not involve "a changed use pattern." Instead, EPA states that it has decided to provide an opportunity to comment in this instance "because of the potential significant interest from the public" and to be "completely transparent about these applications." EPA also states that it does not intend to provide notice or opportunity to comment for similar applications to add hemp that are likely to be submitted in the future.
EPA also states that the products with requested label amendments contain active ingredients for which EPA "has previously determined the residues will be safe under any reasonably foreseeable circumstances." Each active ingredient has an established tolerance exemption for residues on all raw agricultural or food commodities.
The 10 products for which EPA has received an application to add hemp are:
- Debug Turbo, EPA Registration No. 70310-5, active ingredients: azadirachtin and neem oil;
- Debug Optimo, EPA Registration No. 70310-7, active ingredients: azadirachtin and neem oil;
- Debug Trés, EPA Registration No. 70310-8, active ingredients: azadirachtin and neem oil;
- Debug-ON, EPA Registration No. 70310-11, active ingredient: neem oil;
- REGALIA Bioprotectant Concentrate, EPA Registration No. 84059-3, active ingredient: extract of Reynoutria sachalinensis;
- MBI-110 EP, EPA Registration No. 84059-28, active ingredient: Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain F727;
- GH CMT, EPA Registration No. 91865-1, active ingredients: soybean oil, garlic, oil, and capsicum oleoresin extract;
- GH MPMT, EPA Registration No. 91865-2, active ingredient: potassium salts of fatty acids;
- GH DNMT, EPA Registration No. 91865-3, active ingredient: Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain D747; and
- GH NAMT, EPA Registration No. 91865-4, active ingredient: azadirachtin.
Once public comments are received, EPA anticipates making its decision on adding hemp as a new use site on the specific products before the end of 2019, so that these products may be available for the 2020 growing season.
Although the Federal government has legalized commercial production and use of hemp (as opposed to marijuana that contains higher levels of THC), not every State has changed its laws to conform to the new classification. EPA took the unusual step of announcing receipt of the new amendment applications at Hemp Production Field Day at the University of Kentucky. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has long been a proponent of commercial hemp production, and about 1,000 growers in Kentucky now have licenses to grow hemp for commercial use.
As hemp production increases, there will also be increased demand for pesticides to combat weeds, insects, and plant diseases that pose a potential threat to this crop. Although hemp fiber and oil have many potential industrial uses, hemp also has potential medicinal uses because extracts containing cannabidiol (CBD) are now being widely marketed for their purported health benefits. This use of hemp means that EPA will have to consider whether new tolerances may be required for some active ingredients before they can applied to hemp. As EPA has noted, the active ingredients in the 10 products for which EPA announced that applications are pending to add labeling for hemp already have tolerance exemptions, and therefore do not present this issue.
Comments are due on or before September 23, 2019. The public can submit comments at www.regulations.gov in Docket Number EPA-HQ-OPP-2019-0369.
By Lisa M. Campbell, Timothy D. Backstrom, Lisa R. Burchi, and James V. Aidala
On August 7, 2019, EPA took long awaited action concerning the inclusion of Prop 65 warning statements for glyphosate on EPA registered pesticide labels, which will likely impact the broader ongoing debate over EPA approval of Prop 65 warnings on pesticide labels. EPA’s August 7, 2019, letter to glyphosate registrants states that EPA “will no longer approve labeling that includes the Proposition 65 warning statement for glyphosate-containing products.” EPA stated further that “[t]he warning statement must also be removed from all product labels where the only basis for the warning is glyphosate and from any materials considered labeling under FIFRA for those products.” Moreover, EPA unequivocally states that “pesticide products bearing the Proposition 65 warning statement due to the presence of glyphosate are misbranded” under FIFRA Section 2(q)(1)(A). Registrants with glyphosate products currently bearing Prop 65 warning language, where the exclusive basis for such warning is based on the presence of glyphosate, must submit draft amended labeling that removes this language by November 5, 2019.
By way of background, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) listed glyphosate as a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer on July 7, 2017. OEHHA’s listing of glyphosate as a substance under Prop 65 is based on the International Agency on the Research for Cancer (IARC) classifying it as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” EPA scientists subsequently completed an independent review of the available scientific data on the potential carcinogenicity of glyphosate and do not agree with the IARC classification. Additional information regarding glyphosate is available at B&C’s blog.
Also of note is a February 26, 2018, preliminary injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Court of California, in response to a motion filed by a coalition including Monsanto, CropLife America, and several growers associations alleging that the IARC classification decision for glyphosate is contrary to the international scientific consensus, that the required Prop 65 warning would be misleading to the ordinary consumer, that compelling the manufacturers of glyphosate to provide such a warning would violate the First Amendment because the warning is not factual and uncontroversial, and that the applicable criteria for injunctive relief were met. The February 26, injunction precluded OEHHA from enforcing its Prop 65 warning requirements against glyphosate registrants that otherwise would have taken effect on July 7, 2018. The Court did not rule that glyphosate should be removed from the Prop 65 list as a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer, but did state that products containing glyphosate would not be required to comply with the warning requirements. In issuing the preliminary injunction, the Court stated that the required warnings are “false and misleading” and that plaintiffs “have shown that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their First Amendment claim, are likely to suffer irreparable harm absent an injunction, and that the balance of equities and public interest favor an injunction, the court will grant plaintiffs’ request to enjoin [Prop 65]’s warning requirement for glyphosate.” More information on that case is available at B&C’s blog. That injunction has not been appealed and remains in place.
Although the glyphosate warning that EPA has refused to allow is based on OEHHA’s recent listing under Prop 65, Prop 65 warnings on pesticide labels generally have been a significant issue since 2016 when OEHHA issued revised regulations regarding the content and transmission of Prop 65 warnings. As a result of these revisions, many registrants sought to add Prop 65 warning requirements to pesticide labels to meet Prop 65 requirements, but many registrants have not been able to obtain EPA approval for such warnings, resulting in much controversy and discussion. More information regarding the changes to Prop 65 warning requirements also are available at B&C’s blog.
In its press release announcing its guidance to glyphosate registrants, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler states: “It is irresponsible to require labels on products that are inaccurate when EPA knows the product does not pose a cancer risk. We will not allow California’s flawed program to dictate federal policy.” EPA states that its “independent evaluation of available scientific data included a more extensive and relevant dataset than IARC considered during its evaluation of glyphosate, from which the agency concluded that glyphosate is ‘not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.’” Wheeler is further quoted as stating: “It is critical that federal regulatory agencies like EPA relay to consumers accurate, scientific based information about risks that pesticides may pose to them. EPA’s notification to glyphosate registrants is an important step to ensuring the information shared with the public on a federal pesticide label is correct and not misleading.”
OEHHA immediately released its own press release on August 13, 2019, in which it “objects to US EPA’s characterization of any warning concerning glyphosate’s carcinogenicity as a false claim.’” After reiterating OEHHA’s listing glyphosate based on the IARC determination, OEHHA states that EPA’s position “conflicts with the determination made by IARC” and that “it is disrespectful of the scientific process for US EPA to categorically dismiss any warnings based on IARC’s determinations as false.”
The Court’s February 26, 2018, preliminary injunction was considered a significant development both for glyphosate specifically and perhaps for Prop 65 warning requirements generally, especially considering the recent influx to EPA of label amendments seeking EPA approval of revised Prop 65 warning language to address OEHHA’s revised regulatory changes. EPA’s guidance is equally significant, as EPA has now rejected the inclusion of a Prop 65 warning that EPA believes is misleading on a federal pesticide product label.
FIFRA Section 24(b) expressly prohibits any State from requiring any label language for a registered pesticide product beyond the labeling approved by EPA, and EPA has now declined to approve pesticide labeling that includes the Prop 65 warning for glyphosate. In some instances, EPA has been willing as a courtesy to approve labeling changes requested by a State, but the glyphosate determination demonstrates that EPA will not accept any label revisions that conflict materially with its own determinations. Although glyphosate is a fairly complex and controversial case, it will be important for registrants to monitor the evolution of EPA’s standard for when it will or will not approve a Prop 65 warning on a federal label, since this issue has been the subject of considerable controversy over the past several years.