Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Maine Board of Pesticides Control Meetings Nov-Dec 07

Maine BPC Reports \ BPC - Nov & Dec 07

Did You Know?

If you own, lease or manage a property within 500 feet of another piece of property that may be managed with pesticides, INCLUDING Bt corn, you have the right to ask your neighbor what pesticides he or she is using.

Board of Pesticides Control Rules on Use of Genetically Engineered Corn

At its July 2007 meeting, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) approved registration of genetically engineered (GE) Bt field corn seed products, making Maine the last state to allow sale of the plant incorporated pesticide (PIP) transgenic product. Recognizing the sizable contingency that strongly opposed use of the product, the BPC resolved to implement further rulemaking for use of the product, to be in place before the seeds could be planted in 2008. At its November 2007 meeting, a public hearing gathered input on the proposed rule. Thirty-four people testified in person and over 100 submitted written comments, with three-fourths favoring more stringent rules than currently proposed.

At its December 2007 meeting, the BPC held a work session to refine the language in the rule based on public comments. The board approved the final rulemaking language at its January 2008 meeting.

Also at the December meeting, three new Bt field corn products were approved for registration, bringing the total to 10 products from 4 companies: Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Dow AgroSciences, Monsanto and Syngenta Biotechnology.

According to the new rules, growers using Bt corn will require annual Board-approved training and a product-specific training certificate.

Regarding buffers, the rule states:
When non-Bt-corn crops are or will be located within 500 feet of a prospective Bt-corn planting site, the refuge must be planted in a configuration that provides maximum protection from pollen drift onto the adjacent non-Bt-corn crop. Unless otherwise agreed, this standard shall apply:

i. When the non-Bt-corn grower notifies the owner or lessee of the land to be planted with Bt corn;

ii. The notice is given prior to planting of the Bt-corn crop; and

iii. Such notice identifies the non-Bt-corn crop to be protected.
This, in effect, means that Bt corn growers must plant the federally mandated 20% refuge of non-Bt corn so that it lies between their Bt corn and their neighbor’s non-Bt (organic, sweet and/or seed) corn. If the neighbor is still not satisfied with the distance between the non-Bt corn and the Bt-corn, it becomes that neighbor’s responsibility to establish an additional buffer on his or her own land to meet his or her own needs.

Bt Corn Buffer Diagram
In a fact sheet issued by the BPC, the following illustration demonstrates the buffer requirement:

For two years from the date of planting, anyone using PIPs shall maintain records including site and planting information, maps showing crop location and refuge configuration in relation to adjacent crops within 500 feet that may be susceptible to cross-pollination, total acres planted, information on pesticide application to the refuge, date and time of planting and brand name of the product used. These records shall be kept on the farm and be available for BPC inspectors upon request. The records may be declared confidential. Growers have no reporting requirements.

The federally mandated 20% refuge requirement was designed not as a buffer, but to minimize the development of pesticide resistant insects. In the training for growers who wish to use Bt-corn, information about the importance of the refuge, as well as requirements for siting and configuring the refuge, are central topics. Several of these trainings occurred at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show in January, paving the way for planting Bt corn seed in 2008.

Dealer Requirements

Those selling PIP products must hold either a General or Restricted Use Pesticide Dealer’s License. Dealers must notify the BPC when they are distributing and when they stop distributing Bt corn, so that the BPC will know which dealers are distributing the products. This will enable the BPC to verify compliance with insect resistance management plans and BPC rules.

Dealers must also record sales, and the BPC may use these records to monitor compliance with insect resistance management and pollen drift management requirements. These records are confidential and will not be available to the public.

Aerial Spray

A series of recommendations from the Stakeholders’ Committee on Pesticide Drift, which met in 2007 to discuss public concern about this topic, is available on the BPC’s Web site, Priorities are:
1. addressing conflict between abutting landowners;.

2. improving notification requirements;

3. allocating sufficient BPC resources to enforce existing rules;.

4. mandating drift management plans;

5. applicator and consumer education programs;

6. prohibiting pesticide application where drift onto residences, yards and drinking water wells is likely;

7. monitoring drift; and

8. measuring harm from drift.
The BPC will draft new rules around aerial spray and drift based on these recommendations as well as input received at its Dec. 2007 Public Information Gathering Meeting and from written comments. If you are concerned about pesticide drift and want stricter rules governing the practice, contact BPC Director Henry Jennings, 207-287-2731,

For more information about BPC activities, visit