Apr 2, 2019
Food safety group wants EPA to tighten restrictions on seeds treated with pesticides

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) wants the EPA to tighten up its regulation of planted seeds treated with systemic insecticides. If the EPA agrees, it would directly affect potato growers.

The CFS, a nonprofit “public interest” organization that promotes organic growing, filed a petition with the EPA to initiate a rulemaking change or issue a formal interpretation for planted seeds treated with systemic insecticides. The CFS petition states the EPA hasn’t properly applied the exemption for such seeds in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), leaving them exempt from registration and labeling requirements.

The National Potato Council (NPC) feels the petition targets potatoes. The group voiced its concerns to the EPA during the public comment window, stating the current regulations already stipulate that any pesticide applied to seeds has already passed through EPA registration. The NPC issued a formal letter to the EPA signed by CEO John Keeling.

“Treatment of seed potatoes after cutting but before planting with systemic pesticides and other crop protection products is a basic component of all successful potato growing operations,” the NPC letter stated. “From the potato grower’s perspective, the effort by CFS to push for additional regulatory restrictions for seed treatments demonstrates a shocking lack of understanding of the current EPA registration and registration review process.”

The NPC letter goes on to that since all safety measures and stipulations are being met, additional steps would burden growers, as well as the EPA, with no added safety benefits.

“Specifically, for potato growers if EPA abandoned the ‘treated seed exemption’ for seed potatoes, it would be particularly onerous due to the uniquely fragile nature of a potato seed piece,” the NPC letter stated. The full letter can be found here.

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