CATCH THE BUZZ - Formic Acid Approved For Organic Honey Production EZezine


CATCH THE BUZZ

Formic Acid Approved for Varroa and Tracheal Mite Control in Organic Honey Production

 

Following is an edited version of the final ruling recently released. The entire document can be found at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=AMS-NOP-11-0058-0001

 

Formic acid was petitioned for use in May 2010, as a pesticide for suppression of Varroa mites. Formic acid is a colorless liquid with a pungent odor which is miscible in water. This substance is the simplest carboxylic acid and is naturally occurring in small amounts in some insects and plants and is a natural component of honey.

 

Fumigant mite control products for beehives generally consist of a gel pad impregnated with formic acid which is contained in a sealed plastic pouch. Application consists of cutting vents in the pouch and setting it in the hive, where it releases vapors that diffuse throughout the hive. The volatilization of formic acid causes mite deaths by asphyxiation generally without harm to exposed bees. It can also penetrate capped cells and sealed brood cells where mites are feeding.

 

The petition was submitted by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, and is retrievable from the NOP Web site in the Petitioned Substances Database: http://www.ams.usda.gov/NOPPetitionedSubstancesDatabase.

   

The use of synthetic formic acid is regulated by other Federal agencies. Formic acid has antibacterial properties that make it effective as a preservative, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permits its use as a food additive in the feed and drinking water of

animals. FDA also permits the use of formic acid as flavoring agent in processed foods. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has exempted synthetic formic acid from the

requirement of a tolerance in or on honey and honeycomb when used to control tracheal mites and suppress Varroa mites in bee colonies, and applied in accordance with label use directions. The EPA has examined the potential for formic acid residues to appear in beeswax and honey and concluded that residues above those found naturally are not expected when a formic acid pesticide product is used as directed. Synthetic formic acid is currently permitted in Canada

and the European Union for use in organic apiculture to control parasitic mites.

 

The information presented by the petitioner and considered by the NOSB is generally supported by a June 2011 technical report for formic acid that the NOSB Livestock.

 

During their deliberations, the NOSB also considered formic acid in the context of their final recommendations for apiculture standards from 2001 and 2010 and feedback from the Apiculture Working Group. Based upon their review of this information, the NOSB issued a final

recommendation to add formic acid to the National List with an annotation that would limit the substance's use to a pesticide solely within honeybee hives. In their recommendation, the NOSB did not limit the use of formic acid only for treatment of Varroa mites, which was the use specified by the petitioner. Since EPA registers formic acid as a pesticide to control Varroa and tracheal mites, their recommendation and this proposed rule would, in effect, allow the use of formic acid to control both Varroa and tracheal mites in organic apiculture.

   

The Secretary has reviewed and proposes to accept the NOSB's recommendation. Consistent with the NOSB recommendation, this proposed rule would amend Sec.  205.603 of the National List by adding formic acid (CAS 64-18-6) at paragraph (b)(2) as a synthetic substance allowed for use as follows:

    Formic acid (CAS 64-18-6)--for use as a pesticide solely within honeybee hives.


 

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