The Crop Science division of Bayer announced it is refusing a request by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to voluntarily cancel the uses of flubendiamide, the active ingredient in Belt insecticide.

Bayer is seeking a review of the product’s registration in an administrative law hearing. Bayer explained that the EPA is using a claim of possible harm to “benthic organisms that live in the sediment of waters near agricultural fields.” The company “strongly disagrees with the EPA’s methodology, which is based on theoretical models and assumptions that exaggerate risk. Years of water monitoring studies have shown residues of flubendiamide and its metabolites are well within safe levels established for aquatic invertebrates.”

The dose determines the efficacy or toxicity in regard to insecticides. Bayer contends the insecticide is only toxic to the organisms in water in extremely high doses should it reach water from improper use. The organisms referenced as being susceptible in streams and ponds are food for fish.

Belt has been approved for use on more than 200 crops, the most common row crop being soybeans. But there are several other commonly grown crops on the label including oranges and almonds. Bayer provided an example of pistachio growers being significantly harmed if Belt is removed from the market.

Belt was launched in 2008. While under review, farmers and ag retailers can continue to buy, sell and use Belt.

“We are disappointed the EPA places so much trust on computer modeling and predictive capabilities when real-world monitoring shows no evidence of concern after seven years of safe use,” said Peter Coody, Ph.D., Bayer vice-president of environmental safety.

Bayer rejected the EPA’s request to voluntarily cancel the flubendiamide registration and anticipates a hearing in front of EPA’s independent Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ) for a review.

It is anticipated that the review will be conducted before further action by the EPA, but requests for comments and cancellation of the registration of the insecticide is almost certain to occur if Bayer loses its review with the OALJ.