DuPont and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are on the same page in suspending the sale of Imprelis, a herbicide marketed through DuPont’s Professional Pest, Lawn and Golf Management Products group.

Aug. 4, DuPont voluntarily suspended sale of Imprelis and announced that it would conduct a product return and refund program. Then the EPA made the suspended sale official Aug. 15 in requiring no sale, use or distribution of the herbicide because it has harmed a large number of trees, including Norway spruce and white pine.

EPA recently completed an evaluation of injury to evergreen trees where the herbicide was used. The evaluation investigated whether incidents were the result of product misuse, inadequate warnings and use directions on the product's label, persistence in soil and plant material, uptake of the product through the root systems and absorbed into the plant tissue, environmental factors, runoff issues or other possible causes, according to the agency. Results of the investigation have not been formalized yet.

Black eye opinion

Although this event pertains to turf and lawn situations, it is a black mark on the whole agricultural chemical industry and the EPA. The message that companies and the EPA want accepted by the public is that a product/active ingredient has been fully tested and investigated to assure that each chemical is safe for release into the environment.

When something like this happens, the public quickly asks how it can trust regulators or companies. And that mistrust can quickly be transferred to biotech crops and other aspects of modern agricultural technology.

If anything, being a lawn and turf area herbicide makes the situation possibly worse because the public could see this negative impact on their piece of the world, not hidden out in the country where so few people travel.

Even if it is discovered that the problem stems from misuse, the damage is done and the public won’t hear the scientific explanation. The ultimate result: it happened; we don’t trust you.

Information about EPA's investigation into Imprelis and damage to trees: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/regulating/imprelis.html