WASHINGTON, March 1, 2016 - EPA is moving ahead with cancellation of the pesticide flubendiamide, which under the trade name Belt is registered for use on more than 200 crops, including soybeans and almonds.

Registrants Bayer CropScience and Nichino America already told the agency they plan to fight the cancellation decision.

In addition to soybeans and almonds, Belt is also used on tobacco, peanuts, cotton, lettuce, alfalfa, tomatoes, watermelon, and bell peppers, “with some crops having as many as six applications per year,” EPA said.

EPA asked the companies in January to voluntarily cancel the registrations. They told EPA they would contest the matter. (More documents here.)

Once a Federal Register notice is published announcing the intent to cancel, the registrations will be cancelled unless the companies ask for a hearing under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) within 30 days.

EPA studies that show “flubendiamide breaks down into a more highly toxic material that is harmful to species that are an important part of aquatic food chains, especially for fish, and is persistent in the environment,” EPA said in its press release. “EPA concluded that continued use of the product would result in unreasonable adverse effects on the environment. EPA requested a voluntary cancellation in accordance with the conditions of the original registration.”

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EPA had issued a time-limited registration to the companies with conditions that were understood and agreed upon. If unreasonable adverse effects on the environment were found by EPA, the companies would submit a request for voluntary cancellation of all flubendiamide registrations within one week of EPA notification.”

“Bayer and Nichino do not agree that continued registration of flubendiamide poses unreasonable adverse effects on the environment,” the companies told EPA in responding to the voluntarily cancellation request. “EPA’s concerns are focused solely on the possibility that flubendiamide and a metabolite might accumulate in ponds and water systems to levels that may be toxic to aquatic invertebrates that dwell in sediment.”

A spokesman for Bayer CropScience today said the comapny expected EPA's action and that it still anticipates a hearing before an EPA administrative law judge.
Nathan Donley, a staff scientist with the Center for Biolgical Diversity, welcomed EPA's action. "It’s great to see the EPA standing up to the pesticide industry. We’re hoping to see these dangerous products finally taken off the shelf so they can no longer harm fish and other aquatic wildlife,” Donley said. “But there’s a larger context here: Many pesticides are approved for use before it can be demonstrated that they will not harm the environment. I’d love to see the EPA build on this decision and seriously consider halting the conditional registration of pesticides.”
(This story was updated at 1:10 p.m. with comment from Bayer CropScience, and again at 1:50 p.m. with comment from the Center for Biological Diversity.)

Nathan Donley, Ph.D
Staff Scientist, Center for Biological Diversity