Login
"Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts."
- Rachel Carson
  You are here:  ProgramsPublic Policy InitiativesMaine Board of Pesticides Control ReportsBPC – Winter 1998   
 Maine Board of Pesticides Control - Winter 1998 Minimize

December 31 is Deadline for Notification Registration
BPC to Investigate New Standards for Indoor Pesticide Use
Chlorine Dioxide Approved for Use on Storage Potatoes
Dangerous Levels of Pesticide on Cranberries
Alan Lewis elected BPC Chairman
Soybean Rotations for Pesticide Reduction
Pesticides Sales Report Misses the Mark


December 31 is Deadline for Notification Registration

The much debated pesticide notification registry is now law. Those concerned about getting advance notice of non-agricultural pesticide applications on neighboring property (lawn and turf treatments, extermination services, tree spraying and home garden pesticide use) must submit a $20.00 annual fee and completed forms to the Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) by December 31, 1998. Call 287-2731 or write the BPC at 28 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0028, for forms and more information. Be forewarned that there are a number of exemptions, and the BPC only turns the list over to commercial applicators. If your neighbor’s treating his own lawn, the BPC will give you a letter about the notification requirements for you to deliver to him.

MOFGA fought hard for a lower fee – or no fee at all. Connecticut operates a similar registry for a population three times that of Maine, charges no fee for being on the registry, and has a very manageable 150 registrants annually. If the fee is keeping you from registering, let the BPC know.

BPC to Investigate New Standards for Indoor Pesticide Use

Fresh and somewhat bruised from the registry battles, the BPC is poised to tackle yet another hot potato: standards for indoor pesticide applications. These standards would address notification, as well as issues not covered by label safety requirements – such as ventilation of treatment sites and expectations for avoiding applications in the presence of unconsenting individuals. They could cover multi- and single-family dwellings, hotels/ motels, offices, schools, malls and restaurants. The BPC started to look into these issues in 1990, and actually drafted proposed regulations. This issue was very contentious, however, and the proposal was dropped. A letter from the Maine Restaurant Association from that time illustrated how the proposed rule was perceived by the business community: “Picture in your mind’s eye approaching a Maine restaurant and seeing posted as you enter … that pesticides will be used. That same sign translated … might say to our customers, beware, we are infested with rats and roaches.” The Maine Restaurant Association and numerous other business groups have signed up to be on a BPC task force to revisit the issue of indoor application regulations. Sharon Tisher of MOFGA has volunteered to be on the committee. Any readers interested in participating should call the BPC at 287-2731.

Chlorine Dioxide Approved for Use on Storage Potatoes

The EPA has approved the Section 18 Emergency Exemption requested by the Maine Potato Board and the Cooperative Extension to use the disinfectant chlorine dioxide on potatoes at harvest or in storage facility humidifiers to control late blight. Although not yet registered for use on potatoes, chlorine dioxide is used to disinfect portable water storage tanks, ice making equipment, and to wash fruits and vegetables in food processing plants. It is also increasingly used in place of chlorine to treat drinking water. When asked if chlorine dioxide could produce chloroform and other disinfectant byproducts, BPC toxicologist LeBelle Hicks reported at the BPC’s September 11, 1998, meeting that she had investigated that issue, that there was no evidence that chlorine dioxide produced chloroform, and that research suggested that it produced far fewer disinfectant byproducts than chlorine and another permissible processed food disinfectant, sodium hypochlorate.

Dangerous Levels of Pesticide on Cranberries

On September 11, 1997, BPC inspector Ray Connors was conducting a routine pesticide use inspection with David Popp at Popp Farm in Dresden. Reviewing Popp’s pesticide application records, Connors noted that Popp reported on his pesticide applicator log applying 4 pints per acre of the cholinesterase inhibitor Chlorpyrifos 4E AG to his cranberry bog, though the label instructions direct 3 pints per acre for cranberries. Popp had also applied the pesticide to his bog three times over the summer, although label instructions limit applications to two applications per year. A Maine Department of Agriculture Quality Assurance Inspector was dispatched to the bog to take a sample of the cranberries to check for Chlorpyrifos residues. Sample results showed 4.3 ppm Chlorpyrifos, more than four times the 1.0 ppm tolerance. Upon being advised, Popp agreed not to allow the cranberries to be harvested, resulting in a net loss of between $3500 and $5200. He also agreed to pay a fine of $250, as part of a Consent Agreement approved at the BPC’s September 11, 1998 meeting. In commenting on the enforcement action BPC Chief of Compliance Henry Jennings acknowledged that Popp’s conduct was “pretty inexcusable … Popp’s problem is that he’s trying to do everything at once.”

Alan Lewis elected BPC Chairman

Alan Lewis, an ecologist and University of Maine at Machias professor, was elected chair of the BPC on September 11, 1998, replacing Thomas Saviello, a forester, who is resigning from the Board at the end of this year. In discussing his nomination for the position, Lewis wanted to apprise the Board that he might represent a somewhat different perspective on the Board’s mission. “With all due respect to us,” Lewis noted, “we spend too much time as clerks and mechanics. We have to look at the Act to Minimize Reliance on Pesticides to fulfill the broad mission of the Board.” Referring to the 1997 legislation initiated by MOFGA and co-sponsored by Senators Marge Kilkelly and John Nutting, Lewis observed that the “legislative Act is very, very important. Humans are components of the ecosystem. I hope you all know who I am.”

Soybean Rotations for Pesticide Reduction

Sixteen Aroostook County potato farmers are producing high grade soybeans for China and Japan, and reducing pesticide use on their farms as a consequence. According to a presentation at the BPC’s October 23, 1998, meeting by Vernon DeLong, Executive Director of the Agricultural Bargaining Council, Maine potato farmers planted about 1200 acres of soybeans and 140 acres of canola as rotational crops last season. Four hundred acres of the soybeans were high grade product packed and shipped by a Canadian distributor to China and Japan for production of tofu and other soy products. The soy crop can earn upwards of $100 profit an acre, far more than rotational barley that farmers had previously been growing. In this experiment Maine farmers are following the lead of their Quebecois neighbors, whose soy crop has grown from 5000 acres seven years ago to more than 300,000 acres this past year. Canadian farmers, however, often have trouble meeting food grade because their black soils stain the beans, and they devote most of their production to feed extensive livestock operations. Hence the Canadian distributor, Prograin, was eager to get Maine farmers on board. Unlike conventionally grown potatoes, which require an array of fungicides and other pesticides, these soybeans are grown with only herbicides, and require no nitrogen fertilizer. Hence the total input of chemicals on a field in a soy rotation is significantly less than the input in a year in potato production. The rotation also helps break the life cycle of the Colorado potato beetle. Two thousand acres of food grade beans are planned for next year, and DeLong suspected the crop could grow to 8,000 to 10,000 acres in Maine.

In response to a question from this writer, DeLong confirmed that none of the soybeans planted last year, nor the 150 acres also experimentally planted with canola (rape seed), were genetically engineered. The Asian buyer for the food grade beans stipulates that they not be genetically engineered. For livestock feed, DeLong noted that they could, in the future, turn to those varieties genetically engineered to be herbicide resistant, such as the “Roundup Ready” soybean. BPC staff member LeBelle Hicks noted that use of those beans would not have to be licensed by the BPC, since, unlike the NewLeaf potato and Bt corn, they are not “plant pesticides.” It is highly questionable, however, that use of those products, which implicitly promote the use of the toxic herbicide glyphosate (see the Fall/98 issue of the Journal of Pesticide Reform), and which present a risk of spread of herbicide resistance to weeds through cross-pollination, is consistent with Maine’s Act to Minimize Reliance on Pesticides. The BPC Communicator reported (Aug. 10, 1998) that according to Matthew Kleinhenz, University of Maine Cooperative Extension Crops Specialist, Roundup Ready soybeans are not yet available in a variety that can mature during Maine’s short growing season. Many Maine and Canadian dairy and feed operations still avoid using Roundup Ready beans.

Pesticides Sales Report Misses the Mark

“There’s no question it’s deficient,” is how BPC Executive Director Bob Batteese introduced the 1997 Report of Pesticide Sales and Commercial Use, delivered to the Legislature on October 1, as required by the Act to Minimize Reliance on Pesticides. The report is 60 pages of hundreds of entries by individual brand name, listing the quantities of product sold by distributors or applied by commercial applicators, in either pounds or gallons. No one on the Board argued when I stated that although the 1997 Act was intended to improve pesticide sales reporting, this report was a “giant step backward” from the last report compiled by BPC staff in 1995. That report had consolidated brand name data under active ingredient, had reported total pounds of active ingredient, converting liquid gallons to pound units, and had come up with a fairly reliable estimate that in agriculture and forestry in 1995, approximately 1.9 million pounds of active pesticide ingredients were sold. At a minimum, I noted, the 1997 Act contemplated that equivalent information would be available to determine whether that figure was up or down in 1997. Beyond that, the Act directed that reporting be developed for non-agricultural pesticide use, and separated by sector (homeowner, rights-of-way, turf management, etc.). In this report, there was, most glaringly, “no bottom line,” no quantification of total pesticide sales. The report is, accordingly, useless for either establishing a meaningful baseline or comparing with previous data.

Batteese offered two explanations for the report’s deficiencies. The first concerned staffing. Staff member Tammy Gould, who had prepared the 1995 report, has left and has not yet been replaced. Also, the Board lost the new Planning and Research Associate position authorized by the 1997 Act to administer the new data collection and reporting responsibilities, because it inadvertently missed a deadline to activate the position with the State Budget Office. It will take new state budgetary action to get the position back; the Agriculture Department supported this request in its last submission to the governor.

The second problem had to do with the completeness of the information included in the report. In 1997, under separate legislation requested by the BPC, the reporting burden on general use pesticide sales was shifted from retailers to wholesale distributors who sell to department, hardware, and lumber and supply stores. Many such distributors, however, were not yet licensed in 1997 and hence were not required to report for that year. Moreover, it is often hard to identify out-of-state distributors and enforce legal reporting requirements. These problems, however, should not have affected reports of agricultural (restricted use) dealers.

Board chair Alan Lewis directed staff to further analyze ways to get meaningful information for this report, and to report back at the next meeting.

– Sharon Tisher


    

Home | Programs | Agricultural Services | The Fair | Certification | Events | Publications | Resources | Store | Support MOFGA | Contact | MOFGA.net | Search
  Copyright © 2014 Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association   Terms Of Use  Privacy Statement    Site by Planet Maine