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Monday, December 07, 2009

Critics Take Aim at New Strawberry Pesticide


If Gov. Schwarzenegger caves to political pressure, a new pesticide called methyl iodide could replace methyl bromide as the primary pest-fighter used by strawberry farmers. This might come as some relief to environmentalists who’ve been pushing the phaseout of the ozone-depleting methyl bromide. But there’s a catch: its would-be replacement is a highly volatile carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent. And activists fear that California will see a replay of the 2007 Bush administration decision to approve methyl iodide before hearing what the scientific community said first.

According to activists, the pesticide industry has been pressuring the governor to speed up the approval process so that the new pesticide will be available for the next fumigation process, which starts in August. Sources expect the governor to make a decision within a few weeks. The fumigant up for approval is Midas, the commercial form of methyl iodide and chloropicrin produced by the company Arysta.
“They are circumventing the scientific process,” says Dr. Susan Kegley, a consulting chemist for the Pesticide Action Network, explaining that while the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation ordinarily runs its own tests before approval, this time the decision might be made before the Scientific Review Panel reviews the department’s risk assessment draft. Kegley says the environmental costs associated with methyl iodide are largely unknown; the EPA has yet to do an environmental study. “The effects that methyl iodide has on field mice and birds that don’t get out of the way is yet to be determined,” says Kegley.

Methyl iodide’s health effects are better understood—and they’re not good.
Read full article here.

posted by CASFS 2006 @ 8:37 PM

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