Bayer Crop Science says it has refused a request by the EPA to pull its Belt pesticide off the market in the US.
The chemical company says the EPA is exaggerating the environmental risk posed by flubendiamide, the pesticide’s active ingredient, and says it will seek a review of the product’s registration in an administrative law hearing.
Belt is approved for pest control on more than 200 crops, including soybeans, corn, cotton, pistachios and peanuts.
The EPA says the insecticide may harm benthic organisms that live in the sediment of waters near agricultural fields.
Bayer says the EPA’s methodology is flawed and says 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,” says Dr. Peter Coody, Bayer vice president of environmental safety.
Richard Matoian, executive director of American Pistachio Growers, says taking Belt off the market would hurt growers.
“The loss of this chemistry 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 in California,” Matoian says. “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.”
Bayer now expects a hearing in front of EPA’s independent Office of Administrative Law Judges for a review.
While the pesticide is under review, farmers and retailers can continue to buy, sell and use the product in their operations.
Last year Bayer opened its $12 million SeedGrowth Equipment Innovation Center, which aims to advance sustainable agriculture. The center is part Bayer’s plan to invest close to $1 billion in capital expenditures in the US between 2013 and 2016.