Pyrethroid Products Reviewed

By Brian German, Associate Broadcaster

Pyrethroids are synthetic chemical insecticides that are included in more than 3,500 registered products, with many of those being used in agriculture. Every 15 years, the Environmental Protection Agency is required by congress to review all registered pesticides.  They received their first-ever review evaluating how they impact fish and aquatic plants.

John Cummings is the Registration and Regulatory Affairs Manager for FMC, a diversified chemical company that has been serving the agricultural community for over a century. “We are very concerned with the content of that risk assessment – that they have identified that there is high-risk concerns to certain aquatic organisms, not necessarily fish or anything like that, but small aquatic organisms,” Cummings said.

The underlying purpose of these kinds of reviews is to ensure public safety, especially when reviewing products used in ag production.  “They’ve done a very high level, simple, cursory risk assessment that has identified these concerns,” Cummings said.

During the past decade, the use of pyrethroids has increased, as the use of organophosphate pesticides continues to decline.  That is due to their higher toxicity to birds and mammals when compared to pyrethroids.  Cummings expressed his concern regarding the data that the EPA bases their decision on.  “There’s been other actions by EPA recently around the use of the best available data and the best science around risk assessment. … The EPA should be using the best science to make the right regulatory decisions while protecting the environment,” Cummings said.

Through their industry consortium, the Pyrethroid Working Group, FMC is in the process of putting data together that they hope the EPA will take into consideration.  Cummings explained that their research will “make it more real world while still conservative and protecting the environment. It’s more real world and typical of how these products are used.”

Pyrethroids are a broad-spectrum insecticide that have shown tremendous success in controlling a variety of different insects considered to be economically important to the ag industry. “Pyrethroids are a very important element of both integrated pest management as well as resistance management. Growers today are facing very complex insect control problems, and it’s necessary to have many tools in the tool box,”  Cummings said.

“I think EPA needs to understand how important it is to consider the benefit of these to production agriculture as well as society, in feeding the world,” Cummings concluded.

The public comment period for the EPA’s risk assessment has been extended to March 31st.

Ag Stakeholders are urged to comment at