EPA launches Web-based pesticide labeling
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April 15, 2014
EPA launches Web-based pesticide labeling

Following a pilot project that ran for a short time in 2011, EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) is launching an open-ended Web-distributed labeling (WDL) program that will be available to pesticide registrants and that is intended primarily for use by commercial applicators of pesticide products. 

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The WDL program is voluntary, although any registrant that participates would need to meet the federal requirements pertaining to pesticide labeling for any WDL made available through the program.  The primary advantage of WDL is that users can insert their requirements into the registrant-developed website and obtain a streamlined version of the labeling information included with the product, which is specific to their state- and site-specific needs.

The EPA notes that labels accompanying pesticide products can include more than 30 pages of instructions.  Since the program is voluntary, standard labeling must still be included with the product.

Both versions valid

Each registrant wishing to use WDL must submit an application for amended registration, containing new labeling statements that inform users that they may obtain “additional labeling” from a specified website.  The user would be instructed that both the package label and WDL are legally valid, although the WDL would be valid only for products that bear a “released for shipment” date on or before the date of website access.  Furthermore, the product label must state that in cases where the WDL conflicts with the container label, only one version may be relied on—either the container label or the WDL. 

Labeling instructions may not be mixed and matched.  The WDL site must also state that the user must possess a copy of the WDL instructions for pesticide application. The WDL would not impose any additional recordkeeping requirements on users.

WDL is enforceable

The OPP says that all content on the registrant’s website would be considered labeling.  If the website is false or misleading, the product would be misbranded and unlawful to sell or distribute under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).  Any links from the WDL portion of the website to other information should clearly indicate through a disclaimer statement that the user is exiting the portion of the website considered labeling and going to a website that is not part of the product’s labeling. 

User-friendly

“Functionality” will be considered by the OPP when deciding whether to approve an amendment to add WDL.  For example:

  • The website should be accessible every day, 24 hours a day, with minimal downtime for maintenance during low-traffic periods. 
  • The website should have a “reasonable” minimum response time (i.e., the content provider should consider the potential number of people that may attempt to access the site at one time). 
  • Registrants should not impede access to labeling content by requiring users to log in or pay a fee. 
  • The website should not require advanced computer systems or software.
  • The labeling content should be provided, at a minimum, in PDF format, although registrants may choose to make WDL available through other technologies, such as apps for tablets or smart phones.
  • Users should not be required to download software specific to the WDL site when accessing the site from a traditional computer.
  • The website should include security functions that, for example, ensure that users cannot alter the rendered output (the final version of WDL returned to the user). 

Review in 5 years

The WDL program is described in full in a pesticide registration notice (PR Notice 2014-1), which the OPP says it will reevaluate within 5 years of publication to ensure that the WDL system is keeping up with current technology.

The PR notice 

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