Beveridge & Diamond

EPA Office of Pesticide Programs to Conduct Rulemaking on Pesticide Inert Ingredient Disclosure

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., October 1, 2009

On September 30, 2009, EPA responded to petitions filed by 15 states and several environmental interest groups seeking EPA action to require disclosure of the identity of pesticide inert ingredient on pesticide product labels.  (Letter from Debra Edwards (Director, Office of Pesticide Programs) to K. Leval, E. Brown, Jr., and C. Tebbutt dated Sept. 30, 2009.  Click here to view the press release on EPA's website.)  The petitions sought disclosure of more than 350 pesticide ingredients claimed by petitioners to be “hazardous.”  In acting on the petitions, EPA indicates it will fundamentally change long-standing practices for disclosing pesticide inert ingredients.

EPA grants these petitions, in part, by stating its intention to initiate a rulemaking that will “increase public availability of hazardous inert ingredient identities for specific pesticide formulations.”  At the same time, EPA rejects the petitions’ request that EPA undertake chemical-by-chemical determinations and product-by-product reviews because such an approach would be slow, resource intensive, and likely to generate many individual challenges.  EPA states that products containing “hazardous” inert ingredients have a less favorable cost/benefit ratio than products lacking such ingredients and that public availability of such information will likely reduce use of such ingredients in pesticide formulations.

EPA will proceed by publishing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, expected to be issued by year’s end.  The Agency indicates that it anticipates “effecting a sea change in how inert ingredient information is available to the public,” potentially resulting in disclosure beyond that sought by the petitioners.  EPA acknowledges that these fundamental disclosure changes raise complex issues for which the Agency must gather information and views from all potentially affected stakeholders.  EPA identifies these critical issues:  establishing criteria for determining which ingredients should be made public, whether ingredient concentration should affect disclosure requirements, how disclosures should made (labeling versus other means), and terminology for ingredient disclosures.  The Agency’s letter fails, however, to emphasize issues involving trade secrets and confidential commercial information which will be implicated.  

These changes to regulation of pesticide inert ingredients come as EPA expands inert ingredient safety reviews and data requirements, and struggles to implement a corresponding system for inert ingredient data compensation.  Given the time and cost required to change inert ingredients and reformulate pesticide products, pressures on inert ingredient use will bear close watch by registrants and their customers relying on pesticide products.

For additional information, contact Kathryn Szmuszkovicz at (202) 789-6037,; Mark Duvall at (202) 789-6090,; or Mike Neilson at (202) 789-6061,  




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