Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved two new products that could prove helpful in preventing future wildfires in Western states. These innovative products contain the new microbial active ingredient Pseudomonas fluorescens strain ACK55 for use as a pre-emergent herbicide.
"In Western states these products will improve wildlife habitat and reduce flammable grasses that contribute to wildfires," said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn. "The ability of this product to reduce wildfires makes it an invaluable tool for not just protecting the environment, but also for protecting public health and saving lives."
After reviewing public comments and the best available science, EPA has approved the registration of end-use product Battalion Pro (EPA Reg No. 91213-3) and a manufacturing-use product (EPA Reg No. 91213-4 ), which both contain the new active ingredient Pseudomonas fluorescens strain ACK55 (P. fluorescens ACK55). When applied, P. fluorescens ACK55 acts as a naturally occuring bacterium that becomes established in the soil. Once established, it produces a metabolite that affects the plant cell wall and membrane, which in turn reduces the plants' ability to reproduce. P. fluorescens ACK55 is not expected to be harmful to humans or non-target organisms.
The herbicide Battalion Pro has been approved for targeted application on invasive, noxious grasses in areas such as food crops, pastures, forests and recreational areas. These grasses are often associated with wildfires that can lead to increased air pollution and loss of property and habitat for native wildlife.
Since P. fluorescens ACK55 must become established in the soil to provide optimal pre-emergent herbicidal effects, suppression of certain invasive grasses may take two to five years. Additionally, dry conditions do not allow P. fluorescens ACK55 to grow in the soil and colonize various plant parts, resulting in only minimal suppression.
In concurrence with today's registration actions, EPA is also establishing a tolerance exemption for residues of P. fluorescens ACK55 in or on all food when it is used in accordance with label directions and good agricultural practices.
For more information, visit docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0336 at www.regulations.gov.