Photo: phoenixlily, Flickr
The newest pesticide to be approved? It's a nasty one. Methyl iodide, for use on strawberry fields. The highly reactive stuff has been deemed toxic and carcinogenic but is now licensed in 47 states, including, most recently, California, where most of our country's strawberries are grown. Environmental groups and farmworkers are in an uproar.
The San Francisco Chronicle notes that even though "more than two dozen California legislators and 54 scientists, including six Nobel laureates," signed a letter opposing registration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved of the pesticide as an alternative to methyl bromide "which was being phased out because it was found to damage the ozone layer" back in 2007.
California approved use of the chemical late last month, right before Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger left office, but opposing groups -- "Earthjustice and California Rural Legal Assistance Inc. on behalf of the United Farm Workers of America and several pesticide reform groups" -- filed suit on account of an "irresponsible and illegal" decision by the state to approve such a toxic product, which "violates the California Environmental Quality Act, the California Birth Defects Prevention Act and the Pesticide Contamination Prevention Act."
Produced by Arysta Life-Science Corp, methyl iodide is said to be injected into the ground and can be applied to the plant and the fruit but claims no detectable effect on the fruit. Farmworkers feeling the burning effects in their eyes and throats would disagree.