EPA Grants Md. Fruit Growers Approval to Use Pesticide for Stink Bug Control

EPA exemption is authorized for one growing season and expires on October 15, 2011.

ANNAPOLIS (June 28, 2011) – The Maryland Department of Agriculture, along with six other states, received approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday that will allow growers of orchard fruit to use a common pesticide against the highly destructive brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB).

“Farmers and growers in Maryland have suffered significant losses because of the stinkbug,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “Experts predict that this growing season will be even worse. The EPA’s approval offers Maryland farmers and growers a proven effective tool to control a pest that has been wreaking havoc with fruit and vegetable crops across the State and inflicting extraordinary economic hardship on individual growers and farmers.”

Some fruit orchards in Western and Central Maryland lost up to 40 percent of their crops last year because of the stink bug, according to University of Maryland Extension.

The EPA’s approval (Section 18 exemption) under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act allows dinotefuran – which is approved for use to protect some 39 crops from other pests – to be used against the stink bug, which has devastated orchards and vegetable crops across the state, especially in the last year. Two products containing dinotefuron have been approved under this exemption. They are Venom Insecticide, manufactured by Valent USA Corporation, and Scorpion 35SL, manufactured by Gowan Company LLC.

Pesticides are registered for use on certain crops, against specific pests, and that registration process can take up to several years as tests are completed and data analyzed. When states request an exemption – as the State of Maryland did in this case—the EPA reviews the scientific data submitted with the application before approving an exemption that allows a pesticide to be used for a purpose other than one it is registered for. States can request exemptions based on an economic or public health emergencies; however, the exemption for Maryland was approved as a result of the economic damage that farmers and growers have suffered in the Mid-Atlantic region due to the exploding stink bug population over the last year.

“The EPA conducts an extensive review of the information we send to assess the adverse effects on the environment, on the applicators or the consumers,” said Dennis Howard, MDA’s Pesticide Regulation Program Manager. “In this case, all risks were considered negligible.”

The stink bug has been resistant to many insecticides; however, MDA has been working on a regional task force with USDA, university researchers, growers associations and state pesticide regulatory officials to identify those that do work. Some 40 different pesticides are under study, with dinotefuran one that has been identified as effective. Pests, however, can build up a resistance to pesticides very quickly, and the task force hopes to identify more effective products soon.

Although they are a nuisance to homeowners, stink bugs are not known to carry or transmit any disease and are not considered a public health concern.

The EPA exemption is authorized for one growing season and expires on October 15, 2011.

Source: Maryland Department of Agriculture

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