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Pesticide Label Safeguards Sought For Workers, Rare Species (1)

May 25, 2022, 7:44 PMUpdated: May 27, 2022, 6:58 PM

Pesticide labels should include warnings in Spanish to help protect farmworkers who don’t read English, the Center for Biological Diversity said in a petition for rulemaking to the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs.

The group said it was submitting the petition light of the Environmental Protection Agency’s endangered species work plan and efforts to improve its pesticide registration programs.

Virtually no pesticide labels contain adequate warnings in Spanish, the petition said. It asked that labels in California also provide instructions in the indigenous languages spoken by more than 150,000 farmworkers in the state.

Other changes requested were for warning labels for endangered species for all outdoor pesticides, and restricted use of all pesticides in endangered species habitat in Hawaii.

“We have been encouraged by Biden Administration’s initiatives to meet its obligations under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), but until the EPA is able to implement pesticide product label changes, pesticide applications will continue to harm endangered species,” J.W. Glass, an EPA policy specialist at the center, wrote in the petition.

In addition, Glass noted that while several improvements have been made to farmworker safety in recent years, one of the biggest unaddressed risks “remains the failure to require pesticide product labels in Spanish and other languages that farmworkers speak.”

The Center asked the EPA to codify its 1980 Label Improvement Program as a way to require pesticide label changes. The EPA never finished the rulemaking process for program.

The agency is considering the petition, a spokesperson said.

Pesticide labels and instructions must be followed for use of pesticide in order to be considered lawful.

(Updated with EPA comment.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Nyah Phengsitthy at nphengsitthy@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Renee Schoof at rschoof@bloombergindustry.com