California’s little-known Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) entered the spotlight this month as scientists, farm workers, and activists rallied against the department’s proposal to approve methyl iodide for use in the state’s $2.1 billion strawberry industry. (Civil Eats first reported on methyl iodide here.) On Thursday, DPR officials along with scientists testified at a State Senate hearing on the controversial fumigant, which chemists classify as a neurotoxin and carcinogen. Dozens of activists attended the hearing and delivered to Governor Schwarzenegger some 40,000 letters of opposition to the DPR proposal.
Commercially grown strawberries and tomatoes in California could start getting an unhealthy dose of the highly toxic fumigant methyl iodide, a known carcinogen, neurotoxin, and thyroid disruptor. Among scientists’ greatest concerns is the pesticide’s ability to cause spontaneous abortion late in pregnancy. So you might be surprised to hear that the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently issued a proposed decision to approve methyl iodide for use just months after a state-commissioned study warned that any agricultural use “would result in exposures to a large number of the public and thus would have a significant adverse impact on the public health” adding that, “adequate control of human exposure would be difficult, if not impossible.” Read more