Attorneys serving the professional pest management industry view the recent Amazon-EPA Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) settlement as a new precedent to help curb online sales of illegal pesticides.
Daniel Gerber, a partner with Orlando, Fla.-based Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell, says a FIFRA settlement like the one Amazon agreed to pay is rare.
“This $1.2 million settlement reinforces the principle that professional and well-established sources of pest control products and services are vital to protect the public from those who do not operate with the same attention to laws and rules,” Gerber says.
Jeffrey Lipman, an attorney with Lipman Law Firm in West Des Moines, Iowa, says part of the problem is consistency.
“The EPA regions often interpret what constitutes a pesticide differently, and the fine structures differ as well,” Lipman claims. “There needs to be more uniformity among the regions.”
Greg Crosslin, a Destin, Fla.-based attorney, says many online pesticide sellers around the world circumvent U.S. regulatory requirements designed to protect public health and property. But this is nothing new, he states.
“Illegal pesticides were shipped into the United States long before the days of online sales,” Crosslin says. “Many times, the products mimicked legal, registered pesticides. Online sales opportunities make it much easier to accomplish — and much harder to stop — this type of fraudulent activity.”
Easy access to unregulated pesticide products — and the easy money to be made selling them — make this problem difficult to solve. There are many reputable companies that sell their pesticides online, including several proven industry manufacturers and distributors. They will need to be part of the solution to this problem, Crosslin says.
“The proper checks and balances must be put in place to ensure all pesticides are properly registered, and all related sales are legal and in full compliance with FIFRA,” he concludes. “The crux of the problem is, I’m not sure the states currently are able to handle this, much less afford it.”
Back to the future
In 2002, the U.S. EPA held a meeting to discuss “Internet Pesticide Sales: The Regulatory Challenges of E-Commerce.”
Sixteen years later, many of the problems and potential solutions regarding online pesticide sales remain the same.