The House of Representatives passed H.R. 897, the Zika Vector Control Act, on Wednesday, May 25. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) and supported by both parties, the Agricultural Retailers Association reported.

The legislation is designed to help reduce the regulatory burden on mosquito control and free up financial resources that would be better for public health initiatives. This bill was passed for the most part based on the need to counteract the Zika virus since there is no vaccine. Controlling the mosquitos that carry the virus and monitoring their spread are considered the best tools to prevent the spread of mosquitos that carry the disease.

Under current rules, mosquito control operators are reluctant to spray over or near water -- precisely where mosquitos breed -- even with products labeled for that specific task.

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Pesticide General Permit simply adds cost and liability barriers for applicators at a time when public health would benefit greatly from common sense regulation.

All pesticides applications are already stringently regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency's Federal, Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), including applications on or near water. The enactment of H.R. 897 does not change Clean Water Act protections for water quality and drinking standards, rather it addresses the real issue of the duplicative regulation.

Mosquito control operators, as well as agricultural applicators, need the best tools available to combat pests. Applicators should be able to use products that have been tested and proven safe and effective without expensive and unnecessary burdens.

ARA applauded the leadership provided by Rep. Gibbs and the U.S. House of Representatives on this human health issue to ARA members and their local communities.

For more information on H.R. 897, go to www.aradc.org/HR897.