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Pesticide News Story: EPA Seeks Public Comment on Petition for Bilingual Pesticide Labels

For Release: March 30, 2011

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has received a petition from the Migrant Clinicians Network, Farmworker Justice, and other farm worker interest groups asking the agency to require that manufacturers make their pesticide product labels available in both English and Spanish. EPA is requesting comment from all interested groups and members of the public before responding to the petition.

The petition focuses on requiring bilingual labeling for agricultural pesticides to increase protection for Spanish-speaking pesticide applicators and farmworkers. EPA recognizes, however, that Spanish-speaking workers in other occupations as well as consumers who use pesticides at home may also be affected by the availability of pesticide labels in Spanish. Therefore, the agency is requesting comment on whether to require bilingual labeling in English and Spanish for all types of pesticide products.

At present, EPA allows pesticide manufacturers to add labeling in other languages, in addition to providing pesticide product labels in English. For agricultural products subject to the Worker Protection Standard, EPA requires that certain parts of the pesticide label include words or phrases in Spanish. In response to the petition, EPA is considering whether to require bilingual labeling in English and Spanish for all pesticides or for only certain types of pesticides, certain pesticide use sites, certain pesticide active ingredients, pesticides in certain toxicity categories, or certain parts of pesticide labels. The agency is requesting comment from interested parties and the public on these options.

EPA’s request for comment on expanding the bilingual labeling requirement for pesticides is consistent with an executive order issued in 2000, which directs federal agencies to improve access to programs and activities for persons who, as a result of national origin have limited English proficiency. The open comment period also reflects the agency’s commitment to public participation in our pesticide regulatory decisions. EPA is inviting public comment until June 28, 2011. After the 90-day comment period ends, the agency will use the comments received in developing a decision on this petition. The Federal Register notice and petition are available in docket number EPA–HQ–OPP–2011–0014 at Regulations.gov. See also EPA’s Web fact sheet on the petition http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/regulating/labels/bilingual-pesticide-labels.html.

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