9th Circuit Petition Fights EPA’s Fungicide, Bactericide Approval

A group of organizations filed a petition before the Ninth Circuit on Thursday contesting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s approval of streptomycin sulfate on citrus crops. The petition claimed that the seven-year “unconditional registration” for use of streptomycin violates the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). 

The plaintiffs include Migrant Clinicians Network, Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, Farmworker Association of Florida, Farmworker Justice, Natural Resources Defense Council Inc., and United States Public Interest Research Group. They purported in their petition that the EPA did not follow proper procedures to ensure that use of streptomycin as an active ingredient would not “cause unreasonable harm to human health or the environment” before approving the substance.

The EPA order challenged in the petition reportedly was finalized Jan. 12 after a period of public notice and comment and became final on Jan. 26. The agency sent a letter with information about the approval to Agrosource Inc., which applied to register its AGRI-SEED 50 WP fungicide and bactericide to address fire blight in apples and pears, huanglongbing and canker in citrus, and bacterial diseases in other crops and ornamentals. The product also is planned to be sold as FireWall 50 WP. 

In the registration letter, the EPA set out specific terms for Agrosource, including implementing a Resistance Management Plan; fulfilling monitoring requirements; and sending summary reports, monitoring reports, and sales reports to the EPA Registration Division each year.

The product reportedly was approved for Citrus Crop Group 10-10. The EPA’s registration, which is attached the the petition, claimed that the EPA determined that the product meets FIFRA’s safety standards and that streptomycin was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use with some bacterial infections in humans and animals, often when “less toxic alternatives are not effective or are administered as a combination therapy.”

According to the time schedule order filed by the Ninth Circuit, the petitioner’s brief is due June 14 and the respondent’s answering brief July 13. Many of the plaintiffs are represented by attorneys with Earthjustice; however, the Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group are represented by their own counsel.