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  You are here:  ProgramsPublic Policy InitiativesMaine Board of Pesticides Control ReportsBPC – Winter 2008-2009   
 Maine Board of Pesticides Control – October 2008 Minimize

This article also appears in the Winter 2008-2009 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

BPC Addresses Aerial Spray, Genetically Engineered Sweet Corn, Violations

The Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) continues to struggle with concerns over aerial spraying. For over a year, BPC members and staff have been developing rulemaking language to address problems that have emerged with the practice over the decades, but the board clearly is not ready to take a strong position against aerial applications of pesticides.

MOFGA is advocating for the strongest position possible to protect landowners from being exposed to spray drift, including a mandatory buffer between spray activity and private landowners or public spaces. The BPC has been reluctant to use buffers to protect these landowners and prefers to rely on improving notification procedures and on site planning by applicators and agricultural land managers contracting the service to make sure applications are made to the correct site using appropriate methods.

At its October 22 meeting, the BPC reviewed draft rules on aerial spraying and drift, in preparation for submitting the language for rulemaking. The forum, a procedural step, did not allow public input, but MOFGA did witness the discussion, which focused on definitions of sensitive areas and sensitive areas likely to be occupied (SALOs); standards for outdoor application of pesticides by powered equipment in order to minimize off-target deposition; and notification provisions for outdoor pesticide applications.

The BPC hopes to finalize and vote on language in the rule at its Dec. 19 meeting at the John E. Dority Safety & Performance Training Center, 10 Mountain Ave., Fairfield. For more information, see www.state.me.us/agriculture/pesticides/laws/rulemaking.htm.

Pesticide Registrations

The BPC approved a Special Local Needs [24(c)] Registration to allow use of DuPontTM Express® Herbicide with TotalSol to control bunchberry in lowbush blueberries – despite concerns that the active ingredient in Express does not bind to soil particles but leaches through soil readily, especially the coarse soils of many blueberry growing areas of Maine. A Washington County organic blueberry grower also expressed concern that this substance might affect mammals, particularly deer foraging in fields after harvest and humans eating the deer shortly after; and insects, particularly pollinators such as bees. The registration request was approved with an expiration date of Dec. 31, 2009, when the BPC will evaluate effects that applications may have had on groundwater. BPC director Henry Jennings suggested that groundwater monitoring of Express be added to the hexazinone monitoring slated for winter 2009-2010.

Monsanto Company has submitted registration requests for genetically engineered Bt sweet corn products. In 2007 the BPC approved registration requests from several companies, including Monsanto, for Bt field corn products. Farmers growing Bt field corn are required by federal law to have at least 20% of the total acreage planted to non-Bt corn in order to delay development of Bt-resistant pests. A condition of registration of Bt field corn in Maine was that when an abutting landowner requests it, this 20% refuge must be configured to maximize the distance between the Bt field corn and abutting land. Bt sweet corn does not carry the same refuge requirement, so the law does not require that abutting landowners be protected from genetic drift through refuges. If you are concerned about Bt sweet corn pollen drifting onto your sweet corn, please alert the BPC. In response to the current request from Monsanto, the BPC is convening the Bt Corn Technical Committee to review pest resistance concerns, and the Medical Advisory Committee to review human health concerns associated with Bt sweet corn consumption.

Pesticide Application Rule Violations

Vaughn Rasar of Rome was fined $100 for purchasing and applying a restricted use pesticide, Brigade, with an expired private applicator license and expired certification.

Waterville Schools were fined $100 after contracting with Scotts Lawn Service to have herbicides applied to athletic fields at the junior and senior high schools. The application was made on a regular school day while school was in session; school personnel did not follow the five-day notification requirement; the spray was not given adequate time to dry or dissipate before people reentered the target area; and record keeping requirements were not followed.

Scotts Lawn Service was fined $500 after contracting with Waterville Schools for the above mentioned applications. The applicator did not schedule the application to allow the maximum time for sprays to dry or dissipate before people would be reentering the target area.

Employees of the landscape company Hands of Thyme of Boothbay made a commercial application of Roundup herbicide at St. Andrew’s Village in Boothbay Harbor without a commercial applicator’s license. A $1000 fine was levied.

A vegetable grower with an expired private applicator license and expired certification purchased and applied restricted use pesticides Atrazine 4L and Proaxis to Belle Vue Farm of Manchester. A $100 fine was imposed.

Licensed restricted use pesticide dealers employed by Paris Farmers Union of Oxford sold restricted use pesticides to six unlicensed pesticide applicators. A $1400 fine was levied.

Two employees of P.R. Webster Professional Groundskeeping Inc. of Windham who made a commercial application of Lesco Three-Way Selective Herbicide at the Pineland Center in New Gloucester did not hold commercial applicator’s licenses, were not wearing adequate personal protective equipment, and kept insufficient records. Fine: $250.

Snowman’s Oil and Soil, Inc., of St. Albans was fined $100 after making a commercial application of Roundup herbicide to property at Prime Tanning without a commercial applicator’s license.

For detailed minutes of BPC meetings and information about future meetings, see www.thinkfirstspraylast.org. To report violations or voice concerns, contact Henry Jennings, 207-287-2731, henry.jennings@maine.gov.

– Melissa White Pillsbury


    

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