California Agency Releases Roadmap for Phaseout of High-Risk Pesticides

The California Department of Pesticides Regulation (DPR) recently released a “roadmap” for the state to fulfill two key goals by 2050: transition to sustainable pesticide management (SPM) and elimination of the use of “high-risk” pesticides. While the roadmap is aspirational and does not provide specific rules at this time, the roadmap goals were developed by a multiagency workgroup in coordination with various stakeholders. It is expected that proposed rules will be forthcoming from DPR and other state agencies as these agencies move toward achieving the roadmap goals.

In addition to addressing agricultural uses of pesticides, the roadmap places particular focus on nonagricultural uses including in urban areas in California, to which it attributes a significant portion (up to 55%) of overall pesticides use. The proposed approach involves increased data collection, “activat[ing] markets to drive SPM,” and potential incentives for moving toward SPM. DPR describes the SPM framework in its press release as “a holistic, systemwide approach that builds on the practice of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) by incorporating essential elements of human health and social equity, environmental protection, and economic vitality.” The roadmap considers IPM to be, in turn, an “ecosystem-based strategy” that aims for increased consideration of human health and social equity, environmental protections, and economic vitality. Presumably, this approach will involve disincentives for those failing to adopt the recommended or prescribed practices.

As next steps, the multiagency workgroup is requesting, by 2025,

  • development of a statewide plan to implement key roadmap goals
  • funding mechanisms
  • programs to prioritize pesticides for reduction and to transition away from the use of high-risk pesticides in agricultural and nonagricultural settings

The “high-risk” pesticides to be targeted are yet to be determined. The roadmap describes these pesticides, which it also refers to as priority pesticides, as those “that have been deemed to be of greatest concern and warrant heightened attention, planning, and support to expedite their replacement and eventual elimination.”

DPR is soliciting public comments on the proposal and is accepting comments through March 13, 2023, at 5 p.m.

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