Organic Pest Control – just what is it?

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Don’t we all want a pesticide that is “non toxic”? Of course we do. We all do. But how can this be possible? Clearly any “agent” that is applied with the intent to kill something else must be “toxic”. So maybe non-toxic isn’t what you mean…What about “Natural” or “Pure” or “Green” products? These adjectives all sound nice but for now don’t mean much. In fact, there is a good chance these words will not be allowed to describe products intended for pest control. For now, the accepted descriptive words include “organic”, “100% organic”, “exempt” and “minimum risk”.

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Organic Pest Control Productsjust what makes something organic?

For the time being, the best way to judge if a product is “organic” is to look for either of the following two logo’s.

Either logo is good.

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ORGANIC PEST CONTROL PRODUCTS

The “Organic Gardening” logo means the product has been certified “organic” by NOP (National Organic Program).

The “OMRI” logo means the product has been approved by the Organic Materials Review Institute. If a product has this logo, it’s Ok for use by the organic community. Keep in mind there are different “categories” for products which make the OMRI list and links to these lists can be found here.

Products with the “organic gardening” logo will be your “most organic”. This emblem means they are NOP Compliant. Most of these will be ideally suited for use on vegetable gardens, in the home and for sensitive target sites. Organic gardeners will want this line of products as will anyone growing an herb garden. But beware of “fakes” being touted as organic. The “best” organic products will be ones which bare the “organic gardening” logo and are federally registered. The registration means they have done a good job proving that they actually control the target pests listed on their labels. Products without registration numbers should be used cautiously – especially if they are new in nature and don’t have a long proven history.

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EXEMPT PEST CONTROL PRODUCTS

Products which fall into the EXEMPT category should also be considered. Exempt pesticides are products exempt from EPA registration containing only active ingredients outlined in FIFRA 40 CFR 152.25(g) (“the 25b list”) and inert ingredients currently identified on Federal Register Notice 59 FR 49400 (“the 4A list”). Back in the late 1990’s, the EPA realized it needed to somehow allow safe, low impact formulations to reach the market place without the cost or rigorous registration process traditional pesticides must endure. A list of these “exempt” active ingredients was created with the intent of creating an incentive for the packaging and production of products using such actives. Basically these are low impact, minimum risk type materials that actually work. These low impact actives meet criteria which keep them exempt from federal registration under section 25(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The list was created in 1988 and has been amended several times since. Generally known as 40 CFR 152.25, this list includes several actives which are a special class of pesticide that are not subject to federal registration requirements because their ingredients, both active and inert, are demonstrably safe for the intended use. The lists can be seen at www.epa.gov (actives) and www.epa.gov (inerts), respectively. Products that qualify as exempt do not have an EPA registration number on their labels.

As a general rule, these products will be using food or plant derivatives and/or essential oils for their active ingredient. These products can be applied in many facilities without having to keep the standard paperwork commonly required for traditional pesticides. Additionally, most anyone can apply them; their use does not mandate certification or other special licensing.

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REDUCED-RISK PEST CONTROL PRODUCTS

Reduced Risk products are unique products in that they fall somewhere in between a traditional pesticide and one which is Exempt. They will bear an EPA registration number but this number will have been obtained with a lot less effort compared to normal, more traditonal pesticides. There is a wide range of reasons for this which are explained in EPA Pesticide Registration (PR) Notice 97-3. These products will follow all the standard rules of traditional pesticides but will generally contain actives which are considered to be “low impact”. The reason for this “category” of pesticides was to offer incentive to chemical companies to use less toxic actives with the benefit to them being that such labels will be able to bypass the normal long, costly and drawn out EPA registration process. This also builds into the system a safety net so that in a time of need their is a “vehicle” or option for products to come to market quickly, in a timely fashion, when they are unexpectantly needed. This might be related to a supply shortage or some kind of public health concern. In summary, reduced-risk pesticides should be viewed as being somewhere in between traditonal and exempt pesticides.

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BRIEF HISTORY OF PEST CONTROL REGULATION AND WHERE IT’S HEADED

Non Toxic Pest Control – how has it evolved?

Ever since the formation of the EPA back in 1970, there has been a regulatory agency in place who is supposed to guard our environment and look out for the public’s general welfare. Part of the EPA’s responsibility is to regulate products being used for general pest control. This regulation includes a product registration process which establishes standards that must be met in order for any pesticide to obtain a product “label”.  Currently the product label is how we are able to judge a product is both effective and safe to use for certain pest control related applications. But meeting these requirements is not without cost. A big cost. These standards and requirements involves many tests and takes time. All this is done to insure the product does as stated on its label and in a way that is both safe and efficient without direct risk to people or the environment. Upon label approval, the company bringing the pesticide product to market hopes that it will then be able to sell enough of it to pay for the expensive product registration process.

Once pest control products were able to obtain a government “stamp of approval”, the pest control industry decided it would be wise to arm itself with these “anointed” products. For the most part, this is a good thing. Clearly the Federal Government has a duty to make sure the products they “approve” are safe, effective and efficient at what they purport to do. And for the most part, the EPA has done a good job of testing, monitoring and regulating these products.

But being the Capitalistic society that we are, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to bring to market a pest control product that wasn’t registered. In fact, it’s easy to find all kinds of “snake oil” being sold today for practically any medical or physical ailment that we as a people may contract or have to endure. Many of these products lay under the governments radar and most go undetected. The pest control industry is not immune to this phenomena. In fact, there are many products being touted as “pure, all natural” and “safe for the environment”. But how can you, as the end user, make a decision which product to use is both safe to use and effective? That’s where we step in!

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Non Toxic Pest Controlwhat do we think ?

For now, we feel the products that do the best “non-toxic” pest control are using active ingredients considered to be either “100% organic”, “organic”, “OMRI Listed”, “reduced-risk”, “minimum risk” or “exempt” by the EPA. More importantly, just because a product claims to be one of the above, we do not automatically trust that it will perform to a level that’s acceptable. We will be testing and constantly evaluating the performance of all the products featured on this site as our goal is bring to market the very best of the best. This insures that you, the end user, is able to equip yourself with a product that should perform as cited on it’s label.

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Non Toxic Pest Control Core Valuesso in summary…

First, we will be skeptical of products which purport to be “organic” without proof. Fly by night brands, companies and products won’t be featured here. Our organic lines will be from companies that have a proven track record and history which shows them to be of good character. That does not mean we will ignore new products; it just means we won’t be selling everything under the sun that claims to be “organic, green, alternative, pure and natural, etc.”.

Second, we will be wary of “exempt” products that aren’t produced by companies with a proven track record or which use an active that hasn’t done well in actual field testing.

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NON TOXIC PEST CONTROL PRODUCTS – what this site is selling…


The products this site features will be in the following groups.

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ORGANIC GARDENING PEST CONTROL PRODUCTS

–  These will be products labeled for use in and around the home for use on most any surface. In general, they will be short lived meaning they will have to be applied over and over and will not provide long term protection. These products will be considered to be the “gentle” or “organic sprays” and most likely to be less costly but not the best performing.
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EXEMPT PEST CONTROL PRODUCTS

–  These will be products which are “exempt” from EPA labeling requirements and are therefore able to come to market without having to go through the normal costly and time consuming process traditional pesticides must endure. Ironically, this category may very well contain some of the best products for use around the home but because they will not bear the “organic gardening” logo, they might be ignored. Exempt products will commonly be used by pest control service companies trying to offer a service using low impact active ingredients. These products will tend to cost more than the organic lines but they will undoubtedly work well and last much longer. In many cases, the exempt products we carry will be the best “low impact” product option and should not be ignored just because they are “exempt” and not “organic”.
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OMRI LISTED PEST CONTROL PRODUCTS

– This group will included products from all the other groups. It will contain products that fall into the organic, exempt, minimum risk and traditional pesticide categories. More importantly, the OMRI list will clearly show what organic growers, processors and handlers can use in and around their facilities. For the most part, if a product is in this list, it means this product is thought to be and probably has a history of being safe to use with a “lower impact” on the environment where it’s applied. We feel anything OMRI listed is a good product choice regardless of which group it comes from. If it’s on this list, you should consider it for use according to it’s label. Chances are high anything OMRI will both work well and be gentle to use. Expect these products to last longer than most organic products and to cost more but they should generally perform better.

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REDUCED RISK PEST CONTROL PRODUCTS

–  This is a group that is for the most part a traditional pesticide but one which uses a “lower impact” formulation of actives and inerts so that it can be brought to market quickly. Such products should perform well but will probably be the “strongest” on this site and will almost certainly contain true chemicals like synthetic pyrethroids. If you are looking for an “organic” product, this category will not be for you. But if you are Ok with a pest control product that contains some manmade components, minimum risk chemicals are a good choice. They will tend to cost more than organic products but they will both last longer and perform better.

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This website features products which fall into either the “100% organic”, “organic”, “OMRI Listed”, “Minimum Risk” or “Exempt” categories. We are confident the liquid, dust, granular and aerosol alternatives we have posted on this site will do a great job of controlling most insect pests found in and around the home. Remember that as alternative products, they probably won’t last as long as their traditional counterparts. This means you’ll probably have to apply them more frequently and they probably won’t provide results quite as quickly so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get dramatic results right away. We’re confident in the end you’ll obtain the results you wish to achieve with a little patience and persistence and if you have any questions, please give us a call at 1.800.877.7290 for any technical assistance, tips or advice we can provide.

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