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October 1, 2010

OPP Considering Labeling of Nanopesticides

Lynn L. Bergeson

The State Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Research and Evaluation Group (SFIREG) Pesticide Operations and Management (POM) Committee held a meeting on September 20, 2010. During the meeting, Jennifer McLain, Associate Director of the Antimicrobials Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP), provided an update on EPA’s regulation of pesticides containing nanoscale materials. McLain’s presentation includes two previously unreported OPP regulatory activities. First, according to McLain, OPP intends to require that nanoproducts be labeled in the same way as other pesticide products. Ingredients would be listed as “nano-X,” and OPP would evaluate the claims on a case-by-case basis. Second, OPP apparently is considering issuing data call-ins to obtain information EPA may need to evaluate the registerability under FIFRA of nanoscale materials. Using its FIFRA data call-in authority is, of course, an option several industry groups have been urging in lieu of repurposing FIFRA Section 6(a)(2).

Plainly, OPP’s cryptic reference to FIFRA “nano labeling” requires far more explanation and some observers may find it disturbing. The presentation’s statement that “Nano-Products will be labeled the [sic] in the same way as other pesticide products” is, of course, ambiguous at best. Such an approach would lead to a number of important questions: What exactly is subject to labeling? Will the presence of any nanoscale material in a formulation trigger a nano label? How will confidentiality issues be addressed? The presentation raises other thorny issues, many of which appear to not have been publicly discussed.