By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter
ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- Cotton and sorghum growers will once again have to resort to Section 18 emergency use exemptions to use Transform (sulfoxaflor) in 2017, after EPA finalized a new, limited-use label for the insecticide that doesn't include those crops.
Sulfoxaflor is used to control piercing and sucking insects such as the sugarcane aphid in sorghum and the tarnished plant bug in cotton.
The finalized label represents the end of a year-long saga that started when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated sulfoxaflor's registration in November 2015, due to pollinator concerns. The decision was accepted by EPA, which asked Dow AgroSciences for more data to ascertain that the insecticide was not dangerous to pollinators. In May 2016, the agency proposed a new label that excluded crops like cotton and sorghum and imposed spraying restrictions designed to minimize pollinators' exposure to the insecticide.
This proposed label was approved by the EPA on October 14 after the agency sorted through more than 70,000 comments from the public.
Phil Jost, insecticides marketing leader for Dow, said the new label is "not our ultimate goal," and the company is "committed to registering sulfoxaflor for all of these previous uses."
"Dow AgroSciences is conducting further pollinator studies, which we believe will demonstrate the safety of sulfoxaflor and should allow a return to the pre-bloom and in-bloom uses which are not included in this new registration," Jost told DTN in an email.
THE NEW LABEL
The new sulfoxaflor label permits use on crops that don't attract bees (barley, triticale, wheat, and turf grass) and those that are harvested before they bloom and become attractive to pollinators (mostly leafy and root vegetables). Some crops that are bee-attractive were included, such as canola, but with a restriction permitting only post-bloom applications.
The label also lists nozzle and buffer requirements to minimize drift and forbids tank mixing the insecticide with pesticides "that have shown evidence of synergistic activity with sulfoxaflor."
Sulfoxaflor was widely used in the cotton and sorghum industry before its cancellation. Without it, sorghum growers had only one effective insecticide against the sugarcane aphid, and cotton growers faced limited options to control the tarnished plant bug.
Ten states requested and received Section 18 emergency use exemptions for Transform on sorghum acres in time for the 2016 growing season -- Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
Cotton growers were less fortunate. Requests for emergency use exemptions from Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas weren't approved by the EPA until July 14, well into the growing season.
Already, industry leaders are getting a jump on Section 18 applications for 2017. In its weekly newsletter, the National Sorghum Producers said the group was "engaged with the EPA to work toward restoring a full registration label for sulfoxaflor for sorghum and helping states apply for emergency exemptions if needed again for the 2017 growing season."
For more information, see the new sulfoxaflor label here: http://bit.ly/… and review the tens of thousands of public comments received by EPA here: http://bit.ly/….
Emily Unglesbee can be reached at Emily. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Emily Unglesbee on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee.
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