Warning label on Greenlight Rooting Hormone

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Does anyone know any reason NOT to use rooting hormone on plants being grown for sale?

This text appears on the warning label on Greenlight Rooting Hormone:

" It is a violation of Federal Law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with it's labeling.
Not for use with plants being grown for sale or other commercial use or for commercial seed production or for research purposes."

The "Federal Law ... inconsistent with it's labeling" part is on almost any product more toxic than Coca-Cola.

I wondered about the "not for use with plants being grown for sale" part. I'd be inclined to totally ignore it, but even then I wondered WHY anyone would say it.

And I assume it would be unenforceable. Wouldn't every trace oif hormone disap;ear by the time a cutting was sold?

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I don't know if it's the case here, but it's possible that the EPA registration for the particular product you picked up is only for use by hobby growers and the company has a different product with a different registration for use by commercial growers. The product could still be substantially the same though.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> EPA registration

Could be. I was guessing that lawyers were involved.

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

The active ingredient is indole-3 butyric acid, a plant growth regulator.

From the US EPA site

Products containing indole-3-butyric acid were initially registered (licensed for sale and distribution) in 1960 for use on ornamental plant cuttings and transplants. As part of EPA' s ongoing review to ensure that pesticide products meet current standards, the chemical was reviewed and found eligible for reregistration in 1992. As of May 2000, there were more than 40 products containing indole-3-butyric acid as an active ingredient.

Also from the EPA site
# Use Sites, Target Pests, and Application Methods

* Use Sites: Many food and feed crops; ornamental turf and nursery plants

* Uses: Growth enhancer to increase both yield and quality.

* Application Methods: Applied to soil or plants as spray. Also used as a dip for cuttings.

It appears that it most likely an old product that they had no interest in doing the paperwork to allow them broaden the uses listed on the label.

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

I suspect that violation of Plant Patents, rather than the rooting hormone, is the issue here. If you root cuttings of a patented plant and sell those cuttings, you are violating the plant patent. (Actually, I think you are violating the plant patent even if you just use them for yourself.) A lot of the plants in garden departments from companies like Monrovia and Proven Winners are patented. Roses used to be the main patented plants, but now all kinds of plants, including annual plants like petunias, calibrachoas, coleus, and such, are propagated asexually and patented. The makers of the rooting hormones don't want to get mixed up in a court case.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

You're right that you're not allowed to propagate patented plants without permission of the patent holder, but that warning comes on the label of the plant, not the label of the rooting hormone. There are plenty of non-patented plants that people can propagate if they want to, and a commercial propagator could have paid the license fee to the patent holder and be allowed to propagate the patented plants so there's no reason the rooting hormone label would have the warning because of that. I'm sure the warning on the rooting hormone has something to do with their EPA registration. I suspect in order to label it for commercial use you need to do more rigorous testing or something since the product will be used in larger quantities, so they may not have wanted to go to that trouble.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I'm agreeing with everything I'm hearing.

>> I suspect that violation of Plant Patents, rather than the rooting hormone, is the issue here.

That makes much more sense to me.

>> If you root cuttings of a patented plant ...
>> I think you are violating the plant patent even if you just use them for yourself.)

That is also my impression: ANY asexual propagation of a protected plant is unlawfull, even dividing the rootball and re-planting three clumps when you only bought one.

Kind of hard to enforce ... especially if the plant sends out runners. Would they try to fine the plant?

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

If for some reason the rooting hormone company wanted to protect themselves from a lawsuit involving patented plants, they would have specifically mentioned not to use it for propagation of patented plants. There are tons and tons and tons of non-patented plants that could legally be propagated for sale, and even patented plants can be legally propagated for sale if you get permission of the patent holder so there's no reason why they should have such a broad warning against all commercial propagation just to avoid a lawsuit about patented plants (which I don't think they could be held liable for anyway).

The whole bit about "violation of federal law to use the product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling" is a standard line that should be on every EPA registered product (rooting hormones, pesticides, disinfectants, etc). The EPA is also very picky about what you put on labels--you need to submit appropriate paperwork and do testing to support any use that goes on the label, and as I mentioned before the data/testing requirements for use in a commercial setting are probably different than for hobby growers, and apparently the company didn't bother to do that additional work in this case so they have to say that you can't use it for those purposes. (the active ingredient in rooting hormones is not a very friendly chemical, so there could be safety issues with working with it in larger quantities as you'd need to in a commercial growing operation so I could see why a company might not want to go through the safety testing, etc to get that use on their label)

Everything that's been said about propagation of patented plants is correct--any asexual propagation is forbidden even if it's just for your own use. But that's not why that warning is on the package of rooting hormone.

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

"But that's not why that warning is on the package of rooting hormone."

So, back to the original question then, why does that label say "Not for use with plants being grown for sale..."?

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Because the EPA is very particular about labeling. There are a few possibilities that I can think of for why it would say not for plants being grown for sale:

1) for any use you want to put on a product label, the EPA requires you to submit appropriate data (safety & efficacy testing, etc) to support that use. Chances are there's additional (or maybe just different) testing requirements for commercial use vs hobby grower use, and Greenlight decided they were better off for whatever reason focusing on hobby grower usage and didn't bother to generate & submit the data to support commercial use.

2) there's a lot of instructions & warning language that goes along with any particular registered use of a product, and there's only so much space on the label, so it might be impossible to cover both hobby & commercial use instructions on one package. So they may have decided to market one product for commercial use and this one for hobby growers.

3) Updating EPA registrations is a time-consuming process, so they may have wanted to keep things more flexible for themselves by having one EPA registration to cover a commercial product, and a different registration to cover hobby usage (even if the product itself is the same and the warnings/instructions are similar). Once you submit a modification to an EPA registration (adding a new claim to your label for example) you need to sit around for many months while they review & approve, and during that time you can't submit any other changes so if you've got a commercial product & a retail/hobby grower product it makes sense to keep them on separate registrations so that each product can be updated independently as needed.

Under any of those three circumstances, they won't have the instructions & warnings for the "growing plants for sale" use, so they have to tell you that you can't use the product for that purpose.

(I'm very familiar with EPA registered disinfectants, and know that for a combination of the reasons I mentioned above, many companies maintain separate EPA registrations for the products that they sell to grocery stores/Target/Walmart/etc vs janitorial supply companies/hospitals/etc even when the product itself is identical)

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Thanks for a very thorough explanation. From a practical standpoint, I doubt that there are any "Rooting Hormone Police" who would catch Corey if he chose to deliberately violate the label and sell some cuttings or plants derived from them. I think the police have more serious problems.

And the label statement that "It is a violation of Federal Law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with it's labeling" raises in my mind the question, just what law is that, and when was it passed? And what agency of the government is tasked with its enforcement? And what are the prescribed punishments? I don't recall ever hearing about anyone being convicted of using a product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. But that could make an interesting jury trial, particularly if the accused had a good defense lawyer.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I agree, the chances of getting caught are extremely low since there'd be no way to detect after the fact whether the rooting hormone that was used had been labeled for commercial use or hobby growers since the active ingredient is the same.

I don't know who passed the law, all I can tell you is that every EPA registered product carries that warning about it being a violation of Federal Law to use it in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. The EPA would be in charge of enforcement. I can think of two reasons why the law might exist...one would be to prevent companies from promoting "off label" uses of their products when they're too lazy (or cheap) to go through the proper registration process. That sort of thing the EPA can and most likely would bring an enforcement action for. Second might be to protect the EPA and the government from lawsuits brought by people who use the products inappropriately and injure themselves in the process.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> Second might be to protect the EPA and the government from lawsuits brought by people who use the products inappropriately and injure themselves in the process.

Like pouring hot coffee in your lap and suing McDonalds.

Or using an electric hair dryer in the shower ... with the water on.

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

I seem to recall that the woman did get money from MacDonalds. And I think there is an electric shaver that is "safe" to use in the shower. If they really wanted to, I think they could make a safe hairdryer.

It would be interesting to know how the Greenlight people would respond to a query about the intent of their label on the rooting hormone.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

You could always call them--I suspect they would just tell you that their EPA registration for that product doesn't cover commercial use so they have to put that text on the label. And the violation of federal law thing is something that the EPA requires so they don't have a choice on that part. If they do sell another product that's registered for commercial use they'd probably let you know the name of that product so you could go get it if you wanted to propagate things for sale.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Thanks, guys. Solid answers.

Portageville, MO

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