Bayer CropScience Requests EPA Hearing Over Flubendiamide

Southern armyworm is one of the pests controlled by Belt approved on the EPA label; photo used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Southern armyworm is one of the pests controlled by Belt approved on the EPA label; photo used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Bayer CropScience said it has formally asked for a hearing before EPA’s Administrative Law Judge because it disagrees with EPA’s request for Bayer to voluntarily withdraw its registrations for the pesticide flubendiamide, marketed in the U.S. as Belt.

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According to a statement by Dana Sargent, Bayer Vice President for Regulatory Affairs, the company has been working with EPA to resolve the disagreement, but now EPA is trying to cancel the product’s registration through a streamlined hearing “in an effort to shield its science from independent peer review and to avoid other government and stakeholder input on its approach.”

We disagree with this and are invoking our right to have an EPA Administrative Law Judge hear both sides and make a determination on what process should be followed. As a matter of standard practice, the Administrative Law Judge’s initial determination will then be reviewed by the EPA Environmental Appeals Board,” Sargent said.

The hearing can last up to 75 days. In the meantime, growers can still use Belt and retailers and distributors can still sell it.

In making a determination about flubendiamide’s safety, Sargent said that the EPA over-relied on theoretical modeling rather than real-world studies, which have shown residues are “well within previously established safe levels.”

Previously, EPA requested real-world studies to learn if the product would cause harm to a particular aquatic invertebrate species. EPA has concluded that flubendiamide poses no risk of concern to humans (either through diet or worker exposure), fish, mammals, crustaceans, mollusks, beneficial insects, pollinators, or plants.

According to Sargent: “Over the course of five years, we conducted real world monitoring to study Belt’s impact in the one area in which EPA raised a question. The results were clear – residues of Belt were below levels EPA said may pose harm. Unfortunately, instead of accepting that real world data, EPA based its decision on theoretical computer modeling which is, of course, dependent on many assumptions and inputs. We fundamentally disagree with EPA’s over-reliance on theoretical modeling when real-world studies have shown residues are well within previously established safe levels. We think this should be subjected to independent review.”

Belt is registered for use on nearly 200 crops in the U.S., including tree nuts and fruit in California to soybeans and cotton in the east.