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News Releases from Region 01

Settlements Emphasize that Pesticides Need to be Labeled Correctly, Protecting Public and Environment from Misbranded Products

Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)

BOSTON - EPA has reached three settlements with companies that produce and/or market pesticides, resolving EPA allegations that the companies or their agents distributed and sold pesticide products which lacked required labels or were missing critical information required by the EPA-approved labels, in violation of the federal law regulating pesticide use in the United States (the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, aka "FIFRA").

The settlements are between EPA and Bayer CropScience LP of Research Triangle Park, N.C., for an $85,500 penalty; E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. of Wilmington, Del., for a $22,200 penalty; and with Dow AgroSciences LLC of Indianapolis, Ind., which will pay a civil penalty of $182,640 and implement an environmentally-beneficial project worth about $231,000. The supplemental project requires that Dow develop a widely-available, web-based FIFRA training with a focus on "supplemental distribution," which will assist entities that make, import, sell or distribute pesticide products, and other stakeholders to understand FIFRA requirements and ensure full compliance.

The three settlements are "derivative" cases brought by EPA against parties whose alleged liability derived from the actions of a supplemental distributor and agent, Harrell's, LLC of Lakeland, Fla. EPA reached a settlement with Harrell's in Dec. 2013 in which the company agreed to pay a penalty of more than $1.7 million, then the fourth largest civil penalty ever paid in a FIFRA enforcement case. The violations alleged in that case and in the derivative actions involved the distribution or sale of numerous misbranded pesticides between 2010 and 2012. The misbranded products consisted of various mixes of fertilizers with herbicides or insecticides, primarily for sale to golf courses and other commercial users. None of the products are sold to retail stores or individual consumers.

The three derivative cases involved pesticides that had been registered under FIFRA by Dow, Bayer, or DuPont (as "registrants") and allowed by each to be sold by the "supplemental distributor" and agent (Harrell's), under the Harrell's name. In the cases against Dow, Bayer, and DuPont, each registrant had an agreement with Harrell's which allowed the latter to supplementally distribute the registrants' pesticide products. Since the FIFRA regulations specify that both registrant and subregistrant may be held liable for violations involving the supplementally distributed products, when Harrell's distributed or sold variously misbranded pesticides - some with entire labels missing and others lacking certain required information - potential liability was triggered against Harrell's and each of Dow, Bayer, and DuPont.

In addition to paying a monetary penalty, each case required the settling party to certify that it was currently in full compliance with FIFRA and the underlying regulations. Distributing or selling misbranded pesticides is an unlawful act under FIFRA since the sale of misbranded pesticides prevents end users and members of the public from having accurate, up-to-date information about ingredients, directions for use, hazards, safety precautions, etc. for pesticides in the marketplace.

Before pesticide products can be marketed or used in the U.S., EPA performs a rigorous, science-based evaluation to ensure that they are used according to specific product-labeled instructions without harming people's health or the environment.

EPA focuses part of its national enforcement effort on distributor products because, in many cases, the agency has found that labels on pesticides produced and sold by supplemental distributors often lack critical information required by law. Omitting this information from a product label increases the risk of harm from potential misuse of the product. Because distributor products are considered an extension of the primary FIFRA-registered pesticide, they must timely reflect label, formulation, and registration changes regarding the primary product. The case settlements announced today are intended to increase compliance levels among members of the regulated community.

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