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Pesticides

EPA Takes Aggressive Actions Against Citrus Greening While Maintaining Public Health and Environmental Protections

For Release: January 12, 2021

Today, EPA is announcing two actions to help protect America’s citrus industry from citrus greening and citrus canker disease. In Florida alone, 90 percent of citrus acreage is affected by citrus greening, resulting in $1.75 billion in cumulative losses in production value over a 10-year period.

Citrus greening (Huanglongbing, or HLB disease) is a bacterial pathogen transmitted by the invasive insect pest Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), which is considered the most destructive pest of citrus worldwide. Citrus canker disease is highly contagious and is spread by wind, rain, irrigation, and human and animal activity in citrus groves.

EPA is registering one technical product, a supplemental label, and one new end-use product for the insecticide aldicarb for use on oranges and grapefruit in Florida. The registration limits the product’s sale and distribution to an amount allowing up to 100,000 acres in Florida to be treated each application season (Nov. 15-April 30) for three growing seasons, expiring on April 30, 2023. The product label also requires specific application restrictions to help protect potential runoff and leaching to drinking water sources.

Unlike other foliar-applied chemicals that at most have an average of four to eight weeks of activity in controlling ACP, aldicarb lasts on average 10 and 15 weeks for nymphs and adults, respectively. A further advantage of aldicarb is its low impact on some natural predatory insects that provide biological control services against other plant-feeding pests.

EPA is also amending one technical and one end-use product for streptomycin, an antibiotic derived from the bacterium Streptomyces griseus, to be used on citrus crop group 10-10, which includes varieties of orange, grapefruit, lemon, and lime. These registrations will be time limited to seven years, expiring on Jan. 12, 2028.

Streptomycin suppresses HLB disease and will aid resistance management of citrus canker because it provides a different mode of action than registered alternatives.

EPA collaborated with the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to evaluate potential antibiotic resistance. The label contains requirements to delay antibiotic, fungicide, and bactericide resistance. Registration terms require resistance management plans, monitoring, and annual sales reports. Mitigation is being implemented to address potential antibiotic resistance, applicator exposure, and spray drift.

Human health risk assessments for both aldicarb and streptomycin are complete and present no risks of concern, including to young children.

Ecological risks to birds, mammals, aquatic organisms, and honeybees are the same as aldicarb’s existing uses and registrations. Registration terms for orange and grapefruit uses require submission of additional pollinator data.

The ecological risk conclusions for streptomycin are similar to those of its other registered uses.

To view the final decisions, see docket number EPA HQ-OPP-2020-0600 at regulations.gov for aldicarb and docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0067 for streptomycin.