Biologicals: Wading Through the Registration Waters

Working in a world of regulation can be difficult, especially with regard to biologicals and whether or not certain products must be registered. There’s a lot to keep up-to-date on. Regulations and requirements vary between states and at the federal level.

On a federal level, if your biological product makes pesticidal claims, it is regulated and must have Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration. As ABM is in the process of having some of its products classified as biopesticides, we have some experience wading through this sea of regulation.

The EPA divides different biopesticides into three categories: biochemicals, microbials and plant-incorporated protectants (PIPS). To be registered as a biopesticide with the EPA, your products must contain a biochemical, microbial, or PIP active ingredient and cannot contain a convention chemical.

Some common registration issues companies encounter include uncertainties related to product and test material identity and incomplete data packages. Generally, as long as your product meets the ingredient requirements and you can prove its safety according to EPA standard, you can be registered.

Things get complicated very quickly at the state level in regard to registration. It can quickly become overwhelming. There are many grey areas if your product doesn’t have federal approval as a biopesticide. In some states, certain biological products have no regulations or registrations. Other states have their own unique requirements.

For biologicals not federally registered (like products marketed as biostimulants), things can be tough. In the state of Oregon, for example, you have to have a heavy metals test done if you want to sell certain biological products there. In Ohio, legume inoculants have to be registered. In some Corn Belt states, there are no registration requirements at all.

For instance, there is no widely accepted regulatory definition of a biostimulant. Without a definition, many state fertilizer programs will not accept the term “biostimulant,” except on EPA-registered labels. Products applied to seed are treated differently than those that are soil-applied.

It would be ideal to develop a nationwide system for the registration of biologicals. In the mean time, it’s best to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible and, when appropriate, work toward registering products as biopesticides with the EPA. This will make things easier for you until a better system of doing things can be put in place.