On May 3, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule that amends current pesticide tolerance crop grouping (Crop Group) regulations. Crop groupings allow petitioners to request a tolerance for multiple related commodities based on research data for one or more representative crops. This final rule is the fourth amendment in a series of planned Crop Group updates begun in December 2007 through collaboration by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Interregional Research Project Number 4 (IR-4) and the International Crop Groupings Consulting Committee (ICGCC).
This final rule specifically creates five new Crop Groups, three new and two revised commodity definitions, and revises the regulations on the interaction of Crop Group tolerances with processed food, meat, milk, and egg tolerances. The changes include:
- Crop Group 22: Stalk, Stem and Leaf Petiole Group: EPA is adding this new Crop Group.
- Crop Group 23: Tropical and Subtropical Fruit, Edible Peel Group. EPA is adding this new Crop Group.
- Crop Group 24: Tropical and Subtropical Fruit, Inedible Peel Group. EPA is adding this new Crop Group. EPA has revised several of the subgroup titles from the proposed rule.
- Crop Group 4-16: Leafy Vegetable Group: EPA is expanding and restructuring this existing Crop Group by both adding and removing commodities. EPA has revised the Crop Group’s name, which was “Crop Group 4: Leafy Vegetables (Except Brassica Vegetables)” in the proposed rule.
- Crop Group 5-16: Head and Stem Brassica Vegetable Group: EPA is revising this existing Crop Group’s name, which was “Crop Group 5: Brassica (Cole) Leafy Vegetables” in the proposed rule and has removed commodities and restructured this Crop Group.
EPA states that these revisions will “promote greater use of crop groupings for tolerance-setting purposes,” and “expand the number of crops that can have tolerances established and thus allow minor use growers a wider choice of pest control tools, including lower-risk pesticides, to be used on minor crops” both domestically and in countries that import food to the United States.
EPA’s three prior amendments expanded existing Crop Groups, established new Crop Groups and subgroups, and revised representative crops. These revisions included new oilseeds and edible fungi (mushrooms) Crop Groups and expansions of existing stone fruit and tree nut Crop Groups.