Bayer CropScience markets the active ingredient as Belt Insecticide, and it is labeled to control worm pests on several crops, including soybeans.
In a May 3 hearing before EPA Administrative Law Judge Susan Biro, Bayer provided testimony that EPA’s request for withdrawal was not warranted and that the science does not support cancellation.
EPA claims use of the insecticide may harm benthic organisms — microscopic organisms that live in ocean floor sediments.
Prior to the hearing, petitioners Bayer and Nichino had submitted a motion to limit the scope of testimony to exclude anything related to whether flubendiamide causes unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.
EPA responded with its own motion, opposing the request.
“As such, the question of whether the Petitioners’ flubendiamide pesticides have an unreasonable adverse effect on the environment is not an issue for hearing, and evidence in regard thereto is not admissible at hearing,” Brio wrote in her ruling.
Both sides will likely file post-hearing briefs before a final ruling by Biro. A three-person Environmental Appeals Board will conduct the final review, with their ruling expected no later than July 6.
Until the final decision, existing supplies of flubendiamide can still be sold and used.
Earlier this year, EPA had requested Bayer CropScience and Nichino voluntarily pull the product.
The registrants refused, saying the EPA had overstepped its boundaries. Instead, they asked for a hearing before an EPA administrative court judge.
Read more background about this battle.