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Statement on Sulfoxaflor Section 18 Emergency Exemptions

For Release: June 20, 2019

EPA has reissued emergency exemptions for the use of sulfoxaflor in 12 states to control tarnished plant bugs on cotton and to control sugarcane aphids on sorghum in 14 states for 2019. The exemptions will authorize treatment of defined geographic areas within each state for a finite period.

The effect of these pests on cotton and sorghum necessitated the emergency exemptions. EPA determined that the devastating spread of the pests and potential economic loss to the growers met the criteria for an emergency exemption. The tarnished plant bug and sugarcane aphid are massive threats to cotton and sorghum crops, respectively. There are few viable options for controlling these problems, and pests have developed resistance to some of the former alternatives. Some alternative treatments can require over 10 applications, while sulfoxaflor is much more effective, with fewer applications in many cases.

Pollinator protection efforts remain critical, even under emergency conditions. For each emergency exemption, mitigation measures were put in place to minimize exposure and reduce the potential for unreasonable risks to the environment. The approvals include advisory guidance for protecting bees, and users must also follow all existing EPA guidance for pollinator protection.

EPA has granted similar emergency exemptions for sulfoxaflor since 2012. In the past, states have not used all the acres applied for in their emergency exemptions.

Additional Information

States have requested use of sulfoxaflor on sorghum and cotton under the Section 18 Emergency Exemption program over the past several years. Section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) authorizes EPA to exempt state and federal agencies from provisions of FIFRA if emergency conditions exist that require an exemption.

EPA evaluates requests for FIFRA Section 18 emergency exemptions in accordance with the statutory criteria of FIFRA and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). EPA assesses all requests for emergency exemption for human and environmental safeguards consistent with these statutory requirements.

In addition, each emergency exemption decision details the conclusions of EPA’s assessment and the public safety requirements to support the approved use. Thus, the decision to authorize an emergency exemption under FIFRA Section 18 ensures that the pesticide can be used safely, in accordance with federal law. The human health and environmental risk assessments that are done for all Section 18 exemptions are based on the best available data and assessment procedures and require the same safety findings as for uses covered by Section 3 registrations.

EPA responded to a Final Report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) on recommendations to improve EPA’s emergency pesticide exemption process in December 2018. The Agency agreed with all eight recommendations and outlined proposed corrective actions and timeframes for completion where appropriate. EPA will soon address the OIG’s concerns for this product specifically.