Department of Pesticide Regulation logo

Department of Pesticide Regulation

The Great Seal of the State of California
Paul E. Helliker
  Gray Davis
January 30, 2003
  ENF 03-04
County Agricultural Commissioners



For some time we have been attempting to resolve a question regarding the legality of using methyl bromide for quarantine treatments at ports of entry. Many of the specific commodities and use patterns are not included on labeling of the pesticide products. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintained that these treatments were legal under emergency exemptions pursuant to section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The provisions of the emergency exemptions were alleged to have been documented in correspondence dated January 22, 1999; August 17, 2000; August 29, 2000 (2); July 26, 2001; May 28, 2002; and May 29, 2002. The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) requested documentation establishing the provisions covered and that these were recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) as valid FIFRA section 18 emergency exemptions before confirming that the applications were legal.

U.S. EPA has confirmed the validity of these emergency exemptions in a letter from Mr. Robert A. Forrest, Chief of the Minor Use, Inerts and Emergency Response Branch, dated January 7, 2003. In pertinent part it states:

  • Methyl bromide is used in port areas to ensure that imported commodities do not inadvertently harbor non-indigenous and quarantined pests . . . . USDA has been able to rely on regulatory authorities available under the "crisis" provisions of the regulations . . . . EPA is evaluating a request from USDA for a quarantine exemption for these treatments . . . . While that review is underway, the terms established by the crisis declarations made by USDA can remain in effect.

U.S. EPA acknowledges that although the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) requires that it establish tolerances for food uses associated with emergency uses of a pesticide, it has not yet completed a full FQPA assessment for methyl bromide. U.S. EPA's analysis of the quarantine exemption request will determine at what level tolerances should be set and for what commodities. It is DPR's position that these are legal applications. However, if residues of methyl bromide were to be found on treated commodities they would be subject to seizure pursuant to Division 7, Chapter 1.5, article 5, sections 12601-12615 of the Food and Agricultural Code.

Copies of the U.S. EPA acknowledgement letter and USDA correspondence are enclosed. Restricted material permits may be issued for these uses based on the documentation by U.S. EPA. If you have any questions, please contact your Senior Pesticide Use Specialist liaison.

original signed by:
Scott T. Paulsen, Chief
Enforcement Branch
Enclosures, PDF

cc:   Mr. Daniel J. Merkley, Agricultural Commissioner Liaison (w/Enclosures)
        Mr. Robert A. Forrest (w/Enclosures)

1001 I Street  ·   P.O. Box 4015  ·  Sacramento, California 95812-4015  ·
A Department of the California Environmental Protection Agency