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Decision to Register the Insecticide Sulfoxaflor with Limited Uses and Pollinator Protective Requirements

Following the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate the registration of sulfoxaflor, EPA has reevaluated the data supporting the use of sulfoxaflor and is approving a registration that meets all requirements of the court. Sulfoxaflor will now have fewer uses and additional requirements that will protect bees. EPA made this decision after careful consideration of public comments and supporting science.

View a copy of the final registration for sulfoxaflor, posted on October 14, 2016 under Supporting Documents.

Learn more about EPA’s decision to register sulfoxaflor:

  1. What is sulfoxaflor?
  2. What decision has EPA made for sulfoxaflor and why is EPA taking this action?
  3. Are the uses of sulfoxaflor safe for people and the environment?
  4. What measures are being taken to further protect bees in this registration of sulfoxaflor?
  5. Wasn’t sulfoxaflor recently canceled?

  1. What is sulfoxaflor?

    Sulfoxaflor is a sulfoximine, a new insecticide class, and is safer for bees and other pollinators. It works against pests that are becoming resistant to carbamate, neonicotinoid, organophosphate, and pyrethroid insecticides.

  2. What decision has EPA made for sulfoxaflor and why is EPA taking this action?

    EPA registered the insecticide sulfoxaflor, which specifically targets piercing/sucking insects such as aphids, mealybugs, psyllids, plant bugs and whiteflies. These insects are often carriers of viral and bacterial diseases – infections that can result in complete loss of important, high-value minor crops and trees.

    This registration is for fewer crops than were allowed under sulfoxaflor’s previous registration. For those crops that attract bees, EPA will restrict application to post-bloom and will not allow use on crops grown for seed. See question 4 for more information on measures to protect pollinators.

  3. Are the uses of sulfoxaflor safe for people and the environment?

    Yes, under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA must determine that the use will be safe for people, considering both dietary and residential exposure, and will not cause any unreasonable adverse effect on the environment.

    After reviewing the data, EPA has determined that, when used according to the label requirements, sulfoxaflor is safe for everyone, including infants, children and agricultural workers.

    The Agency has also determined that, overall, sulfoxaflor presents a low risk to aquatic and terrestrial organisms and low residual toxicity to pollinators. To reduce the risk to pollinators, EPA is prohibiting application on crops attractive to bees before and during bloom, when bees would be foraging, and prohibiting all use on crops grown for seed. See question 4 for more information on measures to protect pollinators.

    View the background documents for the registration of sulfoxaflor at in docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0889. 

  4. What measures are being taken to further protect bees in this registration of sulfoxaflor?

    Following the remand, EPA has re-evaluated the sulfoxaflor application as amended by Dow AgroSciences to further reduce or eliminate exposure to pollinators by restricting applications to post-bloom only for all proposed crops that are attractive to bees. Additionally, indeterminate blooming crops that had originally been registered (citrus, cotton, cucurbits, soybeans and strawberry) are not included in this registration and application is prohibited on crops grown for seed production, including turf.

    The crops registered, designated by their attractiveness to bees, are:

    Not Bee Attractive:
    • Barley, triticale, wheat.
    • Turf grass.

    Harvested Before Bloom:
    • Brassica leafy vegetables.
    • Bulb vegetables.
    • Leafy vegetables (non-Brassica) and watercress.
    • Leaves of root and tuber vegetables.
    • Root and tuber vegetables.

    Bee Attractive, Applications Allowed Post-Bloom Only:
    • Berries (grape, blueberry, cranberry).
    • Canola.
    • Fruiting vegetables (tomato, pepper, eggplant) and okra.
    • Pome fruit.
    • Ornamentals.
    • Potato.
    • Stone fruit.
    • Succulent and dry beans.
    • Tree nuts and pistachio.
    The following label restrictions will be required to minimize spray drift and potential exposure of bees foraging on plants adjacent to treated fields:
    • Applications must be made with medium to coarse spray nozzles.
    • Application is prohibited if winds speeds exceed 10 mph, and a 12 foot on-field down-wind buffer is required if there is any blooming vegetation bordering the treated field.

    Tank mixing is prohibited with pesticides that have shown evidence of synergistic activity with sulfoxaflor. The product label directs applicators to more information and a list of those pesticides.

  5. Wasn’t sulfoxaflor recently canceled?

    In May 2013 EPA registered sulfoxaflor; however, that registration was vacated by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after pollinator advocates petitioned for review of the registration. In September 2015, the court found that the registration was not supported by evidence to demonstrate that it would not harm bees and vacated the registration. The court interpreted EPA’s Pollinator Risk Assessment Guidance as triggering the requirement of higher Tier (Tier II) bee data, which EPA did not have. The new registration reduces the risk to bees below EPA’s level of concern such that no additional data requirements are triggered. See question 4 for more information on the new registration’s measures to protect pollinators.

    The court vacated the sulfoxaflor registrations, effective November 12, 2015. As the registrations were no longer in effect under FIFRA, on the same date, EPA issued a cancellation order to address the use of existing stocks. Although the product registrations were vacated, the tolerances for sulfoxaflor residues on treated commodities that were established under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, remain in place.

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