The Environmental Protection Agency has registered sulfoxaflor — the active ingredient in Transform WG from Corteva Agriscience — for several crops, including cotton. State registrations are pending.
“This decision is supported by substantial data on human health and environmental affects, including many new studies on the effects of the insecticide on bees,” Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, said during a dial-in press conference. “This will help growers all over America by making available an effective tool to control challenging pests with much lower environmental impacts.”
In cotton and sorghum, the product had been used under a Section 18 — emergency use exemption — for the past few seasons. In fact, the EPA had granted 12 Section 18s to states for cotton and 14 Section 18s for grain sorghum for the 2019 season, she says. Altogether, the agency had issued 137 Section 18s since 2012 for cotton, sorghum and strawberries.
The recent actions mean Section 18 exemptions will no longer be required, and the uses under which the Section 18 had been granted will now be registered uses, Dunn says.
In cotton, sulfoxaflor is used to control tarnished plant bug, also known as lygus. In sorghum, it is used to control sugar cane aphid.
Corteva Agriscience, the product’s registrant, welcomed the news.
“The new and distinct mode of action will play a pivotal role in efforts to inhibit the increasing incidence of insect resistance to current insecticides,” Bridgette Readel, Corteva market development specialist, said in a statement.
EPA’s decision also drew praise from the National Cotton Council.
“We appreciate EPA’s decision to make sulfoxaflor available for use on cotton,” NCC Chairman Mike Tate, an Alabama cotton producer, said in a statement. “EPA has been diligent in requesting new studies of sulfoxaflor use on cotton and other crops that provided additional data for the agency’s scientific review per court order. The NCC will continue to engage EPA on crop protection product registrations and other regulatory matters that affect the efficient production of cotton.”
EPA’s actions mean sulfoxaflor is now registered for use on alfalfa, corn, cacao, grains (millet, oats), pineapple, teff, teosinte and tree plantations. It adds back registered uses on citrus, cotton, cucurbits, soybeans and strawberries.
In some of these crops, sulfoxaflor is branded as Closer SC or Sequoia insecticide from Corteva Agriscience.
The EPA made its registration ruling after conducting an extensive risk analysis, including the review of one of the agency’s largest datasets on the effects of a pesticide on bees, Dunn says.
Among those were the results of five long-term studies of the insecticide’s impact on bee colonies and 12 studies on characterizing sulfoxaflor residue in pollen and nectar, she says. These were conducted by the insecticide’s registrant, Corteva.
The agency also factored in the lack of viable alternatives to control economically damaging pests, Dunn says. In many cases, alternative insecticides, such as carbamates and organophosphates, may be effective only if applied repeatedly or in a tankmix, whereas sulfoxaflor often requires fewer applications, resulting in less risk to aquatic and terrestrial wildlife.
In addition, EPA’s registration includes updated requirements for product labels, which will include crop-specific restrictions and pollinator protection language, she says. They include nozzle requirements, wind speeds and boom hight to minimize the chance of off-target movement.
The EPA originally registered sulfoxaflor in 2013. In 2015, the Ninth Circuit of Appeals vacated the registration, citing inadequate data on the effects on bees. As a result, the EPA reevaluated the data and in 2016 only registered the insecticide for crops that did not attract bees, Dunn says.