Bernalyn McGaughey, President/CEO of Compliance Services International (CSI) and Project Manager for the FIFRA Endangered Species Task Force (FESTF) is presenting A Challenging Nexus: Pesticide Regulatory Actions and the Endangered Species Act at the upcoming 46th Annual CAPCA Conference – Online Edition, October 12th – 31st, 2020.
Evaluation of pesticides under both the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) presents multiple complex challenges that have impacted regulators, registrants and end-users. Under FIFRA, the registration of a pesticide label, or the amendment of a label, is considered by ESA to be a “federal action,” and federal actions that present possible risk to species listed as threatened or endangered under ESA (“listed species”) are subject to consultation with either the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) or the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS, collectively, “the Services”). The endpoints for FIFRA and ESA are described differently, with FIFRA being a “risk/benefit” statute and ESA being a “cause no harm” statute with no regard for what the cost of preventing harm is. Consequently, when pesticides are evaluated for safety by FIFRA standards and then moved into the consultation process, Services uses a different “lens” to determine what is a considered a risk to listed species.
Endangered species risk assessment needs to balance the highly complex set of variables related to evaluation of a national pesticide label with the need for a transparent, predictable and efficient science-based assessment. The FIFRA registration process is meant to minimize risk while providing the benefit of a diverse set of crop protection tools to the end user. The ESA consultation process is directed to species protection, but the underlying ultimate goal is species recovery. So, in registering a given product, the registrant has the choice of pouring resources into studies that demonstrate safety or risk minimization, or to instead accept certain label restrictions that are intended to minimize any potential risk. Adequate protection is attainable through science-based decisions that consider various interactions within the environment, supported by users’ knowledge about local conditions. But what contributions in knowledge and actions work together to foster recovery in the agricultural and pesticide use landscape while still maintaining the grower’s ability to farm effectively and efficiently?
This presentation will provide an overview of the federal process, and couple that action to local application once a product is registered. Participants will learn about the current status of the FIFRA/ESA programs and will gain understanding of how combining risk management, landscape management, and knowledge of local conditions might foster both grower productivity and species recovery in the agricultural landscape. Attendees will see ways that their actions can or are positively contributing to the federal process, and where further communication from “the ground” to the “federal headquarters” FIFRA/ESA process would be beneficial.
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