Dow AgroSciences is disappointed with EPA's announcement of a proposal for a multi-year phaseout of food tolerances for sulfuryl fluoride, a material important to the sustainability of the U.S. food supply. EPA's proposed action offers no meaningful public health or environmental benefits and would actually detract from U.S. public health goals.

EPA has said that it will open a 90-day public comment period for stakeholder input on its proposal and will not take final action until it has evaluated stakeholder response. (The comment period will commence upon publication of the proposal in the Federal Register.)

Sulfuryl fluoride protects the U.S. food supply from contamination by pests such as rats, moths and cockroaches. Sulfuryl fluoride is also the sole practical alternative for food processing and storage facilities to another product recently phased out due to concerns about safeguarding the earth's protective ozone layer.

"Consistent with our commitment to U.S. agriculture, Dow AgroSciences is working with government and affected agricultural stakeholders toward a resolution of this issue that addresses the public's need for a safe, affordable and sustainable food supply," said Stan Howell, vice president, North America, Dow AgroSciences.

EPA has acknowledged that its proposal is in response to a petition and threat of legal action by activists. EPA has stated in its Jan. 10 announcement that its proposal is intended to address concerns about aggregate exposure to fluoride -- a material intentionally added to drinking water by public and private water systems to prevent cavities. EPA acknowledges that the use of sulfuryl fluoride to protect the food supply results in only "a tiny fraction" of overall fluoride exposure.

EPA has also noted in its Jan. 10 announcement that its proposal reflects the Agency's interpretation of certain provisions in the 15-year-old Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA).

"The Food Quality Protection Act is intended to protect the food supply," Howell added. "If implemented, EPA's proposal would actually threaten food quality protection. Surely, we can find a better policy solution for agriculture and public health."