More pesticide residue allowed on citrus, rules EPA

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: United states environmental protection agency, Pesticide

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has increased the tolerated level of pesticide residue for citrus fruits and oils, following a petition from Dow AgroSciences.

The EPA conducts random tests for residues of the insecticide methoxyfenozide at the grower, food manufacture and retail level. If they are found to be too high, ingredients can be withdrawn and growers face fines as well as the loss of income from crops that may have cost them thousands of dollars to produce. Although food manufacturers are not held responsible for ensuring that pesticide levels are acceptable, they are susceptible to disruption if the EPA withdraws an ingredient found to have excessive pesticide residues.

The agency said that as a result of the petition from Dow AgroSciences, which produces the insecticide, it has reviewed the available scientific data for methoxyfenozide, and has increased the maximum tolerance level for citrus fruit from two parts per million (ppm) to ten ppm, and the tolerance for citrus oil from 70 to 100ppm.

In its final rule, it said that the pesticide is “not acutely toxic”​ and that studies show “it has few or no biologically significant toxic effects at relatively low-dose levels in many animal studies and only mild or no toxic effects at relatively high-dose levels.”

Peas and pomegranates

The maximum level for dry peas was also increased from 0.35ppm to 2.5ppm and the EPA established a maximum residue level for pomegranates at 0.6ppm.

However, it did not accept a proposed increase in tolerance levels for corn from 0.05ppm to 30ppm, as it said that the available data support the current threshold. Nor did it increase the permitted level for dry beans.

Water assessment

The EPA also simulated the effect of higher tolerated levels of the pesticide on drinking and surface water. It said: “There is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures for which there is reliable information.''

The agency added: “EPA made conservative (protective) assumptions in the ground and surface water modeling used to assess exposure to methoxyfenozide in drinking water. These assessments will not underestimate the exposure and risks posed by methoxyfenozide.”

No comments were received in response to the filing of the petition prepared by Dow AgroSciences. Objections to the rule or requests for a hearing can be filed prior to November 2.

Further information on the EPA’s final rule can be found online here​.

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