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Comments Due August 11 on EPA’s Amended Export Pesticide Labeling Requirements

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., July 14, 2014

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In EPA’s ongoing effort to clarify labeling requirements for pesticide products intended solely for export from the United States, the Agency withdrew its April 2014 direct final rule and reissued the same regulatory text as a proposed rule on July 11 (79 Fed. Reg. 39975 and 79 Fed. Reg. 40040, July 11, 2014).  This action is procedural:  EPA opened a docket and is accepting comments until August 11 on the same language that was included in its April 2014 publication. Companies that export pesticides thus have an additional opportunity to provide input on EPA’s export pesticide labeling requirements. 

FIFRA Labeling Requirements for Export Pesticides

Exported pesticides generally are subject to the labeling requirements of FIFRA Section 17(a)(1) and EPA’s implementing regulations at 40 C.F.R Part 168, Subpart D.  Because pesticides intended solely for export typically must bear an immediate product label that meets the requirements of the importing country, EPA traditionally has allowed any FIFRA labeling requirements not met by the immediate product label to be met by labeling attached to the shipping container. 

Recent Regulatory Background

EPA clarified and restructured its export pesticide labeling requirements through an amendment of its regulations published in January 2013 (78 Fed. Reg. 4073).  However, in so doing, it inadvertently deleted provisions stating that such “supplemental labeling” may be attached to a shipping container holding export pesticides rather than to each individual product container in a shipment. 

To address concerns about this omission, EPA issued a direct final rule on April 30, 2014 to expressly restore the ability of exporters to comply with export labeling requirements through materials that are not attached to each individual product’s immediate container (79 Fed. Reg. 24347).  At the same time EPA replaced the term “supplemental labeling” with the term “collateral labeling” when referring in its export regulations to those printed materials that may accompany a product without being attached to the immediate container.  (The term “supplemental labeling” separately is used by EPA to describe labeling for new approved uses and other information accepted for a product since the last accepted Master label).   

EPA’s “Collateral Labeling” Proposal

Although EPA did not intend the April 2014 direct final rule to establish any new or substantively different labeling requirements for export pesticides, the Agency received two adverse public comments in response to the revisions, indicating the commenters’ disagreement with EPA’s approach.  EPA responded by explaining that the commenters misinterpreted the intent of the direct final rule, which did not remove or eliminate any label requirements but “simply clarified” that the label requirements for export pesticides may be met with labeling on the individual products “with the addition of collateral labeling attached to either the product or the product shipment container.”  79 Fed. Reg. at 40041. 

Nevertheless, as a procedural matter, EPA withdrew the direct final rule following its receipt of the adverse comments, and reissued the same regulatory text (including the provisions that describe use of “collateral labeling”) as a proposed rule for public review.  Comments on the proposal must be received by EPA on or before August 11, 2014.   

Beveridge & Diamond's reputation for excellence in pesticide law is based on forty years of working with U.S. and international clients who research, develop, obtain government approvals for, manufacture, promote, and use conventional pesticides and pesticide produced through biotechnology.  We represent both large and small companies, as well as task forces of companies, with an emphasis on entities that invest in research to discover, develop, and defend new technology.  We work with each client to identify its business objectives, and then to establish and implement the most effective regulatory, commercial, litigation, and legislative strategies to achieve or exceed those objectives. For more information about EPA’s proposal or EPA requirements for export pesticides more generally, please contact Kathy Szmuszkovicz (202-789-6037 or kes@bdlaw.com) or Alan Sachs (410-230-1345 or asachs@bdlaw.com).

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