The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Bill Boteler (202) 265-7337

EPA Drops Plan for Pesticide Endorsements and Cause Marketing

Loophole Left for Case-by-Case Okays of Label Pesticide Pitches, Plugs and Logos


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has formally withdrawn a
proposal to allow pesticide manufacturers to display "third-party
endorsements" and charitable tie-ins on their labels. The agency
acknowledged that these commercial displays on pesticide labels could
confuse consumers and distract from safe usage directions on
insecticides, herbicides, rat poisons and anti-microbial agents,
echoing objections lodged by Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER).

In January 2007, EPA approved a special promotional tie-in
between the American Red Cross and Clorox to promote its bleach
products. In October 2007, EPA unveiled a plan to evaluate and approve
third-party endorsements as well as "cause marketing" on all regulated
pesticide products.

In a Federal Register notice of September 30, 2008, EPA announced that it was withdrawing its proposal;

"After reviewing public comments, the Agency agrees
that cause marketing claims and third-party endorsements...generally
would not contribute meaningfully to improving protection of human
health and the environment. The addition of such statements is not
likely to enhance users' ability to understand the labeling required to
inform the user about how to use the product safely and effectively. In
fact, the addition of such statements could interfere with that goal."

Despite conceding the potential harm, EPA indicates that it will now
review any such applications for pesticide promotions on a
"case-by-case" basis, without benefit of a rule or a policy.

"What at first seems like a refreshing dash of sanity becomes a head
scratcher when one reads EPA's full notice," stated PEER Executive
Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization led opposition to the plan. "EPA
should not be in the business, either directly or in-directly, of
promoting pesticides."

EPA indicates that while it "generally discourages the submission of
applications to add cause marketing claims or third-party endorsements"
the agency does leave the door open to future approvals:

  • EPA did not rescind its approval of displaying the Red Cross symbol on Clorox products;
  • The agency indicated an interest in adding "'green labeling' on pesticide labels"; and
  • While
    the notice states "EPA believes it would benefit from consultation with
    states and a public comment period", the agency did not promise any
    transparency or notice requirements. As a result, decisions can still
    be made in closed-door meetings with corporate lobbyists.

"EPA should be spending its limited time addressing climate change,
not crafting corporate campaigns to boost the sales of commercial
poisons," added Ruch, noting that the EPA notice did admit it would "be
better to allocate its resources to other initiatives." "Case-by-case
review means that it has to meet with every manufacturer who knocks
when EPA should instead just post a 'No Solicitors' sign."


See the EPA announcement

Read about EPA's plan for cause marketing and third party endorsements

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. PEER's environmental work is solely directed by the needs of its members. As a consequence, we have the distinct honor of serving resource professionals who daily cast profiles in courage in cubicles across the country.