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From October 20, 2005                                                                                                           

Judge Makes Ruling on Pesticide Warning Labels More Strict
(Beyond Pesticides, October 20, 2005) On Monday, Washington District Judge John Coughenour told the EPA that they must do a better job of informing the public of the potential hazards to salmon and steelhead caused by commonly used pesticides. In January 2004 Judge Coughenour ruled that the EPA review the impact of various popular pesticides, 2,4-D; diuron; triclopyr and trifluralin; carbaryl and malathion, on endangered and threatened fish. While the review is being completed, use of the pesticides has been curtailed, and buffer zones along waterways have been required for farmers, orchardists, golf course owners and others.

The original ruling also required that stores selling the pesticides put signs up so that consumers are aware of the potential hazards. The notification process was originally the responsibility of a pesticide industry group, CropLife, however it soon became apparent that there was little compliance. In July, a review of local retailers, including Home Depot and Wal-Mart, was conducted. The review found that only one out of eight stores in the area had posted the signs.

In response to the poor execution of the rulings, Judge Coughenour has stiffened the requirements. According to an article in Oregon Based Paper The Register-Guard, the Judge is now requiring the EPA itself to “send letters about the policy to retailers in urban areas with more than 50,000 people, and to provide the stores with a list of the chemicals and the products that contain them.”

The new ruling also requires the EPA to post off of the information on their website. Previously this job was also given to the pesticide industry, which posted the information on a website that was difficult to navigate and directed visitors to the information through a path of promotional materials.

The court ordered warning applies to all stores in urban areas of 50,000 people or more in Washington, Oregon, and California. Additionally, the EPA must consult with the plaintiffs (the Washington Toxics Coalition, the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP), and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations and the Institute for Fisheries Resources), regarding the development of notices to retailers. The EPA is then required to file a status report with the court within 60 days.

NCAP fully supports the decision to stiffen the ruling, commenting that it will educate consumers and help them make choices.