EPA Issues Guidance on Web-Distributed Labeling for Pesticides
On April 4, 2014, EPA released Pesticide Registration Notice 2014-1 under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The Notice provides guidance to registrants on providing legally valid pesticide labeling over the internet. As part of this guidance, EPA also provides examples of proper web-distributed labeling (WDL) and improper WDL. EPA’s vountary guidance, although not binding either on registrants or EPA, ought to assist pesticide registrants and users in benefiting from the advantages of the internet without straying outside of strict pesticide labeling requirements.
The guidance is directed primarily at registrants of pesticide products marketed for agricultural and commercial (e.g., turf and structural) use. Registrants would be required to submit an application for amended registration containing the new labeling statements, and, if EPA approves the application, would be responsible for creating, publishing and maintaining the website containing the WDL. Container labels would be required to direct users to the relevant website and state that the electronic version of the labeling is legally valid. Significantly, in those cases in which the WDL conflicts with the container label, the user may choose which labeling version to follow; the user, however, may not mix and match labeling instructions to follow and the container label must contain a statement to that effect.
Registrants intending to use WDL should be cautioned against incorporating it into their current websites. Rather, registrants should establish a distinct website — otherwise, the registrant’s entire website may be considered “labeling” under FIFRA and be subject to EPA review for compliance.
With WDL, registrants will be able to more quickly add new uses, modify existing labeling and implement labeling-based risk mitigation measures. Users will be able to download only the portions of pesticide labeling specific to their intended state and site of use, thereby avoiding the need to sift through pages and pages of labeling information. That said, registrants should also be aware that internet access may be limited in some geographical areas, especially in rural locations. Depending on the nature of the product and its authorized uses, WDL may not be cost-effective for some registrants.