Salinas California - Toxic Strawberry Fields Forever?

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Salinas California - Toxic Strawberry Fields Forever?


Pests may be the the least of California's worries


It's a pesticide so toxic, many chemists refuse to handle it. But soon, it could be sprayed on California strawberries in fields around Salinas and Watsonville.

State regulators are set to approve the use of methyl iodide -- a highly toxic, potentially cancer-causing pesticide that is injected into fields before crops are planted.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation hopes to use the chemical to replace methyl bromide -- a pesticide that drifts into the atmosphere and damages the ozone layer.

The chemical is already licensed in 47 states and will become legal in California fields after a statewide 60-day comment period ends on June 29.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved methyl iodide under the Bush administration in 2007.

Researchers told the San Francisco Chronicle that 11 states have used the pesticide at least once -- mostly on strawberry, tomato and pepper fields.

So far, no problems have been reported, but researchers say that may be because very few studies have been held.

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CDPR (California Department of Pesticide Regulation) has been exploring the use of methyl iodide as a replacement for methyl bromide for strawberry use for some many years.  
Tons of research and almost countless public hearings have gone into this process. California has the most stringent and difficult process for registering pesticides anywhere in the Nation and probably the world.  
CDPR’s proposed approve uses of methyl iodide are very limited, so limited that the very farmers who will be handing and applying these materials and eating the fruit produced by their work describe CDPR’s limitation as “draconian". I make no such claims, but rather reflect upon CDPR’s long history and reputation of being the most progressive agency in the world when it comes to registration of and use of pesticides and when it comes to developing and promoting alternatives to pesticides. CDPR assessed the risks, and now propose uses of methyl iodide which they feel will protect food crops, while at the same time protect the people and environment of California. 
This has not been a rash decision, nor has it been a closed door process. This has taken many years, and the entire process has been done in the public with opportunities for public input throughout. All of the data, and risk assessments have even been peer reviewed – with the peer reviewers endorsing CDPR’s process and risk assessment, and recommendations for registration.  
The final public comment period was even doubled in length of time to ensure the public had more than adequate time to comment.  
Why introduce methyl iodide? Because CDPR and environmentalists feel it is a better alternative than current technologies available in California in regards to air quality and the atmosphere. The ideal solution? No... but no "ideal" solution exists.  
No one is particularly happy about the fact that methyl iodide is also a Prop 65 material, but it is apparently the best option to fill an importantly needed niche.  
When we think about our potential exposures to Prop 65 materials, why get worked up by methyl iodide? Your exposure; my exposure will be ZERO. Those few who will have limited exposure, the exposure will be exactly that – limited. Even for an applicator; they are daily exposed to Prop 65 materials in the form of motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline, diesel, and cigarette smoke every day.  
So my question is… why all the hub bub… bub? :-)  
Posted @ Friday, June 04, 2010 11:53 AM by Eric
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