WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) said on Feb. 2 that it will aggressively advocate the industry’s case as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced its intention to propose a phased-in revocation of the tolerances for residues of sulfuryl fluoride (SF, or trade name ProFume) on food.

EPA’s action is forced by what was first a petition and later a legal request for stay of the agency’s tolerances for fluoride residues on foods. In response, EPA conducted a new risk assessment of fluoride in the diet. The government has concluded that fluorosis (over-exposure to fluoride) is no longer a “cosmetic effect,” but rather is an “adverse health effect.” This triggered remedial action by the agency required by law. At the same time EPA is denying the request for stay that would have resulted in an immediate revocation.

Specifically, the agency announced it will propose to revoke the food tolerances in a tiered fashion. It will accept public comments for 90 days, review the public comments and then issue a final rule (this could take months). NAMA’s Technical Committee will review and develop comments on the proposal.

NAMA also said its methyl bromide supply for 2012 was cut. Each year the group voluntarily reduces its requested amount when submitting the Critical Use Exemption in recognition of the political reality it faces, NAMA said.

“It is unknown whether international scrutiny of NAMA’s CUE will ease now that the only practical chemical alternative — sulfuryl fluoride — is likely to lose its food residue tolerances,” NAMA said.

In years past, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) decision is announced in November, but just last week we received the amount approved for the 2012 CUE.

For 2012 the U.S. government recommended and requested 107.066 tonnes of the fumigant for NAMA members (millers not members of NAMA cannot access the fumigant). UNEP approved 53.5 tonnes. Later in 2011, EPA should issue an allocation rule, the final legal step in actually making the fumigant available for 2012.