By Betsy Buffington and Kristine Schaefer, Department of Entomology
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is exploring a possible new way of delivering pesticide labeling information called Web-Distributed Labeling (WDL). The concept is being considered for pesticides used by applicators in agriculture, professional turf and landscapes, and rights-of ways for implementation in the future.
With WDL, the pesticide container label would include basic ingredient and safety information and a link to a WDL website to search and download specific state and crop/use directions. The resulting Internet label would be legally valid, including key information from the container label as well as the crop/use specific application information the applicator selected from a drop-down menu. If Internet access was not available, the applicator could use a toll-free number on the container label to get the specific use directions by U.S. mail or fax.
Possible benefits of WDL include shorter, crop and state-specific labels and faster information regarding label revisions of new uses. Pesticide container labels that are now very lengthy (some sixty-plus pages) could be shortened significantly to possibly five or six pages and new uses or revisions could be available on the Internet much quicker. Another benefit would be the ability to adjust the text font size on the WDL thus making it easier to read than some current container labels.
Some drawbacks to WDL may include the lack of Internet access or toll-free access for some applicators and the demand that may be placed on pesticide dealers or others to provide the WDL information to applicators. Also not having the use directions on the pesticide container and requiring an extra step to get this information will be an adjustment and could be less convenient.
EPA is evaluating the efficacy of WDL and would like pesticide applicator feedback. Pesticide applicators are encouraged to go to the WDL pilot website at http://wdl.greenbook.net and test-drive the label search functions to create crop/use specific labels. Applicators can search the labels by either entering in the EPA registration number or by entering the state and then product, crop and uses. Applicators are then asked to complete a short, anonymous survey to provide their input on the feasibility and usefulness of the WDL concept. EPA will use the survey results to decide whether or not to move forward with web-distributed labeling.
Kristine Schaefer and Betsy Buffington are program specialists in the Pesticide Management and the Environment program. Schaefer can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (515) 294-4286. Buffington can be reached at 515-294-7293 or email@example.com.