Every Plant can be a Weed and a Pest too … Federal Law Says So

I love to garden. But weeds, along with deer, cause me great pain and toil. I hate weeds, but what exactly is a weed? Let’s turn to the law (I am a lawyer after all).

Pesticides are nationally regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). This law, like any good law, contains a list of definitions. Here:

“Pest. — The term ‘pest’ means any … weed.” FIFRA, Section 2(t).

“Weed. — The term ‘weed’ means any plant which grows where not wanted.” FIFRA, Section 2(cc).

And there we go, a weed is a plant where it’s not wanted and a weed is a pest. If you feel the need to further stress this point, you got a proclamation for the EPA Administrator no less to help out because the regulations declare:

“An organism is declared to be a pest under circumstances that make it deleterious to man or the environment, if it is: … Any plant growing where not wanted.” 40 C.F.R. 152.5(c).

So next time you’re debating with your friends or family about what exactly is a “weed,” you can use the law.

Left: The Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, July 10, 1920, page 12.

Right: Los Angeles Herald (Junior Section Magazine), July 18, 1909, page 1.

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