NovaChem > Industry News > 2020 > The long and complex road to reassessment

The long and complex road to reassessment

Published on 23/04/2020

Back in June 2017, the EPA announced there were grounds to reassess all approvals for substances that contain paraquat. Assessment comprised an analysis of risks and benefits associated with paraquat use through the entire lifecycle from import to manufacture, use and disposal.

Industry and users were asked to provide EPA information on current use and benefits as well as any data that would help the EPA in their assessment. 

Syngenta, as a leading R&D company, is the original inventor and primary registrant of a range of crop protection technologies, including paraquat. Although there are now many manufacturers and suppliers of paraquat, Syngenta committed a lot of technical resource and expertise to the review as part of our commitment to the safe and responsible use of their products and to supporting NZ agriculture’s access to important technologies.

Syngenta provided the EPA with 89 ecotoxicology studies, 149 environmental chemistry and fate studies, and 168 toxicology studies to support the use of paraquat. They prepared risk assessments for operator and avian (bird) exposure which were of particular interest to the EPA. They also participated in a public hearing in September 2019. 

The EPA published its decision on 11 December 2019, which was to retain the approvals for paraquat herbicides, such as Gramoxone and Preeglone, for both ground and aerial application, but with some additional controls. These additional controls include:

• Maximum use rate of 600 grams of active ingredient per ha (i.e. 2.4 L per ha of Gramoxone 250).
• Maximum of one application per annum.
• Removal from the label (by 11 December 2020) the following uses: forestry, amenity horticulture in publicly accessible areas, and horticultural areas which are considered domestic property.
• Coarse droplet size for ground application and very coarse to coarse droplets for aerial application.
• Buffer zone of 5 metres for ground application and up to 100 metres for aerial (aquatic risk).
• Wind speed restrictions (above 3 km pe rhr and below 20 km per hr).
• Restricted to workplace use and certified handlers.
• Manufacturers are required to prepare and publish a ‘Responsible Handling Information’ booklet by 11 December 2020 and refer to this in the product label.

These additional controls may have limited impact on some uses, such as lucerne and potatoes, where only one application of paraquat is made per annum. However, the single application per annum restriction will impact some horticultural users, including kumara growers who currently apply multiple applications of paraquat at low rates.

Worksafe NZ is currently evaluating the options available for hand-held applications,and whether application should be restricted to closed filling and/or closed cab systems. 

Syngenta is committed to the safe and responsible use of its products. We respect EPA’s decisions and the robustness of their science-based approach to the paraquat reassessment. In total, Syngenta devoted more than 100 days of regulatory and scientific expertise from their local and international teams to the paraquat reassessment. This is a significant investment in time and resource that generic suppliers are unable (or unwilling) to match, while benefiting from the final outcome. 

Syngenta is likely to make the same level of commitment to the upcoming reviews of pyrethroids and neonicotinoids, to secure the safe and responsible use of these important technologies to NZ agriculture. Our industry regulation has the highest levels of consumer and environmental safety. We stand by the safety of our products and the role they play in helping farmers to produce safe and nutritious food.

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