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  You are here:  ProgramsPublic Policy InitiativesMaine Board of Pesticides Control ReportsBPC – Summer 2010   
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Notification Details
Another Bt Corn Approval
Repeated Rule Violations and Fines

By Katy Green


Notification Details

On April 1, 2010, LD 1547, An Act To Revise Notification Requirements for Pesticides Applications Using Aircraft or Air-carrier Equipment, was signed into law. This new legislation revised LD 1293, which was passed last year and dealt with notifying neighbors about certain pesticide uses. The new legislation loosened some restrictions on regulated applicators and charged the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) with new tasks, including developing recommendations regarding notification distances as they relate to types of pesticide applications; determining the feasibility and advisability of requiring land managers to post signs; and determining the feasibility of an automated, Internet-based system for notifying registry participants. Additionally, the BPC must report to the legislature in February 2011 on its progress in developing a comprehensive notification registry and the effectiveness of public outreach to make people aware of the registry.

At its April meeting the BPC began dealing with these directives. It accepted public comments on the scope and functional aspects of the registry. About 10 people commented, and most agreed that the comprehensive registry is a positive step for everyone involved. Heather Spalding, MOFGA’s associate director, highlighted what will likely be the biggest issue: developing distances for notification that are acceptable to all stakeholders. Others agreed. For example, at the April 16 hearing, recommended distances for notifying neighbors ranged from 175 feet to 1,320 feet. Determining a distance that is based on science and is acceptable to all involved parties will be a major focus of the BPC in coming months.

The BPC will also have to grapple with the feasibility and benefits of signage. Spalding said that signage should be considered as an additional means of notification; others said that signage would imply something is inherently wrong with pesticide applications and would be bad for business.

The board is seeking input on these new directives from public health professionals, members of the regulated community, people who are currently on the registry, and others. It has tentatively set public hearings dates on June 24 at 7 p.m. at the University of Maine, Machias, Sennett Hall, Clipper Lounge; on June 25 at 9 a.m. at the University of Maine, Machias, Sennett Hall, Clipper Lounge; and on July 23 at 9:30 a.m. in Portland (location to be announced). For more information, please visit www.maine.gov/agriculture/pesticides/about/index.shtml#meeting.

Written comments may be sent to Henry Jennings at henry.jennings@maine.gov or Maine Board of Pesticides Control, 28 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0028.

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Product Registrations

In March the board approved registration of another Monsanto Bt corn variety. The label for this new cross allows for both field corn and sweet corn to be grown. Board members discussed the need for this new product, as it broadens control of insects that don’t live in Maine. Many board members decided that since this product does not really differ from other approved varieties, it should be registered. Only Chuck Ravis, professor of environmental science and ecology at Thomas College, opposed the registration.

At its April meeting the board developed a new protocol for dealing with Bt corn registrations. Rather than consider the same essential product repeatedly, it gave the staff authority to approve Bt corn varieties unless any of four criteria occur: The product is in a new crop variety; refuge requirements are different; a protein is different; or staff toxicologist Lebelle Hicks is uncomfortable with the registration for any reason.

The board approved a Special Local Needs (24c) application for use of Bravo ZN (EPA Reg. No. 50534-204-100) on potatoes at its April meeting. This request was based on late blight pressure that growers experienced last year and the assumption that it will be bad again this year. University of Maine Cooperative Extension potato specialist Dr. Steven Johnson suggested that this request would allow growers a few more sprays to help control blight. Ravis noted that the active ingredient in Bravo ZN, chlorothalonil, is routinely found in surface water samples throughout Maine and asked if other treatment methods have been considered. Johnson said the issue is having enough supply of other materials. The board unanimously approved the request on the condition that it is updated next year on how the product was used.

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Pesticide Application Rule Violations

Three times in 2009, in Brunswick and Kittery, TruGreen Chemlawn of Manchester, New Hampshire, failed to provide proper notification of pesticide applications to landowners who had requested it. In all cases TruGreen maintained that it had provided proper notification, but was unable to provide BPC staff with proof. The fine levied for these violations was $1,500.

Spruce Bay Farm & Landscape, Inc., of Poland, Maine, was fined $350 for applying pesticides without a commercial applicator’s license at a medical facility in Topsham and failing to keep proper application records. The company was unaware that a license was needed. The board discussed outreach to small and new businesses that may not be aware of required licenses.

The town of South Berwick was cited with a violation after allowing an unlicensed applicator to apply Ready-to-Use Roundup Herbicide on sidewalks and curbs throughout town. A resident notified the board after observing dead grass on lawns adjacent to the sidewalk. A board investigation found that the town allowed unlicensed applicators to use herbicides in this and other instances and issued a $500 fine.

Similarly, the town of Randolph was cited and fined $400 for allowing unlicensed applicators to apply Roundup herbicide on town property.

A consent agreement between the board and the Bethel Inn & Country Club in Bethel was unanimously approved at the April meeting. The Bethel Inn had been fined $400 for unlicensed pesticide applications at the golf course in 2001, 2002 and 2003. At some point in 2004 or 2005, the master applicator ended his employment with the club, and from then through 2009, employees made unlicensed pesticide applications. In April 2010, the board fined the Bethel Inn $3,000 because it was a repeat violation of the rule.

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