Bayer Refuses EPA’s Request To Pull Belt Insecticide From Market

Bayer Crop Science announced today it has refused a request by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to voluntarily cancel the uses of flubendiamide in the United States and instead will seek a review of the product’s registration in an administrative law hearing. The chemistry is widely marketed as Belt insecticide.

In a press release the company believes the methods used by the EPA exaggerate environmental risk and would deny farmers access to a critical pest management tool. Its label includes use on more than 200 crops.

EPA claims uses of flubendiamide may harm benthic organisms that live in the sediment of waters near agricultural fields, without any evidence of harm in more than seven years of commercial use.

“Bayer strongly disagrees with the EPA’s methodology, which is based on theoretical models and assumptions that exaggerate risk,” the release noted. “Years of water monitoring studies have shown residues of flubendiamide and its metabolite are well within safe levels established for aquatic invertebrates.”

“We are disappointed the EPA places so much trust on computer modeling and predictive capabilities when real-world monitoring shows no evidence of concern after seven years of safe use,” said Dr. Peter Coody, Bayer Vice President of Environmental Safety.

“This would be a significant loss for growers of pistachios,” said Richard Matoian, executive director of American Pistachio Growers. “The loss of Belt insecticide would make it more difficult than ever to control pests like the navel orange worm and the peach twig borer which are now significantly impacting pistachio production inCalifornia. What’s ironic and unfortunate is this would force tree nut growers to resort to older, less effective, but more potentially disruptive chemistries to manage these same pests. Growers need more innovative tools to help them manage destructive pests to produce healthy and abundant crops, not less.”

Bayer rejected the EPA’s request to voluntarily cancel the Belt insecticide registration and anticipates a hearing in front of EPA’s independent Office of Administrative Law Judges for a review.

“Denying a product’s registration and ignoring its safe use history based on unrealistic theoretical calculations calls into question the EPA’s commitment to innovation and sustainable agriculture,” said Dana Sargent, Bayer Vice President of Regulatory Affairs.

While under review, farmers and retailers can continue to buy, sell and use the product in their operations.

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