On July 12, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a long-term approval for the insecticide sulfoxaflor—an effective tool to control challenging pests with fewer environmental impacts.  For citrus, Sulfoxaflor is an insecticide with a unique mode of action for control of sap-feeding insect pests including Asian citrus psyllid, scales, mealybugs, and aphids.  After conducting an extensive risk analysis, including the review of one of the agency’s largest datasets on the effects of a pesticide on bees, EPA is approving the use of sulfoxaflor on alfalfa, corn, cacao, grains (millet, oats), pineapple, sorghum, teff, teosinte, tree plantations, citrus, cotton, cucurbits (squash, cucumbers, watermelons, some gourds), soybeans, and strawberries.  While California is the only state that does not have a Section 3 registration, Corteva Agriscience is actively pursuing the registration with the Department of Pesticide Regulation.

“EPA is providing long-term certainty for U.S. growers to use an important tool to protect crops and avoid potentially significant economic losses while maintaining strong protection for pollinators,” said Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.  “Today’s decision shows the agency’s commitment to making decisions that are based on sound science.”

EPA’s registration also includes updated requirements for product labels, which will include crop-specific restrictions and pollinator protection language.

Background

Sulfoxaflor is an important and highly effective tool for growers that targets difficult pests such as aphids and tarnished plant bugs (lygus).  These pests can cause significant economic loss leading several states to request emergency exemptions in recent years.  There are few viable alternatives for sulfoxaflor.  In many cases, alternative insecticides may be effective only if applied repeatedly, whereas sulfoxaflor typically requires fewer applications resulting in less risk to non-target pests and plants.

In 2016, following a 2015 decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacating the registration of sulfoxaflor citing inadequate data on the effects on bees, EPA reevaluated the data and approved registrations that did not include crops that attract bees.  The 2016 registration allowed fewer uses than the initial registration and included additional interim restrictions on application while new data on bees were being obtained.  EPA’s action, adding new uses, restoring previous uses, and removing certain application restrictions is backed by substantial data supporting the use of sulfoxaflor.

For additional information, please visit: www.epa.gov/ingredients-used-pesticide-products/decision-register-insecticide-sulfoxaflor-limited-uses-and