EPA Reopens Neonic Comment Period

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In response to public request for additional time, EPA announced that the comment period for the proposed interim decisions for five neonicotinoids has been extended by 30 days. Comments will now be accepted until June 18, 2020. The proposed interim decisions were released originally on January 30, 2020. The five neonicotinoids include acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam.

As a reminder, not all facets of the environmental horticulture industry are affected. Indoor nurseries, greenhouses, and other covered production areas, and Christmas tree production are not impacted by the proposed label changes; outdoor nursery production and landscape management are impacted. USDA quarantine uses of these five active ingredients are exempt from the proposed changes as well; however, some confusion exists as to what qualifies as a quarantine use.

Noteworthy changes that will impact environmental horticulture include reductions in the total application amounts (on a per-year basis), loss of one use pattern, increased personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements, an advisory statement directed at homeowner use, and enhanced measures to reduce spray drift and runoff. Proposed mitigations vary greatly among the active ingredients.

AmericanHort and its foundation, the Horticultural Research Institute, submitted comments in May on behalf of impacted stakeholders applauding EPA for continued focus on pollinator and ecological health. However, we requested greater clarification on the quarantine uses exempted from the proposed mitigations and consideration of new, invasive pests as they are discovered. We also raised concerns over the proposed lower use rates of some products, as this could impact efficacy against certain pests. Emerald ash borer, scale, and mealybugs are examples.

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