Methyl Iodide Banned in California
After years of promoting their product in the face of
scientific opposition, pesticide manufacturer Arysta LifeScience yielded to
mounting pressure and pulled cancer-causing methyl iodide off the US market on
March 20, 2012. Arysta’s decision ends U.S. use of what state scientist
reviewers called, “one of the most toxic chemicals on earth.” The chemical was approved in 2010 in California despite
concerns voiced by both a panel of independent scientists and the Department of
Pesticide Regulation (DPR)’s staff scientists.
Department of Pesticide Regulation followed by cancelling the registration of
methyl iodide, meaning that the chemical is banned for agricultural use in
California. These decisions came as California officials draw up a plan to
help farmers transition away from fumigant pesticides, especially in the
state’s strawberry fields.
Victory for the CPR coalition!
This is a huge victory for all of CPR member organizations
and others -- from farmworkers to teachers to toxicologists -- who've daily
been battling methyl iodide and Arysta, the largest privately-held agrochemical
company in the world, for over four years. Congratulations to everyone who
signed a petition, talked to a neighbor or took other action to get rid of
methyl iodide in California! The CPR coalition was founded on the belief that
we can accomplish greater results by working together rather than separately.
This meaningful victory affirms our original inspiration yet again, and
highlights the critical role working in coalition.
Other supporters in the fight to ban methyl iodide in
California included Boards of Supervisors in two counties in the heart of
strawberry country, Santa Cruz and Monterey, who both passed resolutions
opposing the use of the methyl iodide. The California Democratic Party, the
California Labor Federation, California Federation of Teachers had also passed
resolutions asking the Governor to ban methyl iodide. Assemblymember Bill Monning
remained a champion throughout the campaign to prevent the use of methyl iodide
and promote sustainable alternatives.
Due to broader questions about the pesticide registration
process in California, the lawsuit challenging the approval of methyl iodide is
still pending. The suit was filed in December 2010 by Earthjustice and
California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. on behalf of Pesticide Action Network
North America, United Farm Workers of America, Californians for Pesticide
Reform, Pesticide Watch Education Fund, Worksafe, Communities and Children,
Advocates Against Pesticide Poisoning and farmworkers Jose Hidalgo Ramon and
Next steps for Safe Strawberries
Methyl iodide is a soil fumigant, a
type of pesticide applied at very high rates per acre that easily transforms
into a gas, making them difficult to control and prone to drift away from the
application site. Although methyl iodide has been banned, dozens of other pesticides (including other highly toxic gaseous fumigants) can still be used in strawberry fields.
CPR is working hard to push the State of California to adopt safe alternatives to highly toxic fumigants. Stay tuned!
For more information about methyl iodide and safe alternatives, contact Tracey Brieger, CPR Co-Director, 415-981-3939 x6.