Gov. Jerry Brown said he will order a review of the use of methyl iodide in California. Until last week Gov. Brown had not publicly discussed the issue.
His comments came close on the heels of the resignation of Department of Pesticide Regulation Director Mary-Ann Warmerdam, who issued the controversial decision last year. Warmerdam’s resignation will take effect this week.
Responding to a question from The Ventura Star at an annual Agriculture Day event on the Capitol lawn, Brown called the decision on how to proceed with methyl iodide a “tough issue,” and expressed concern for the interests of both strawberry growers and farmworkers, whose advocates say will be imperiled by use of the toxic chemical.
Methyl iodide is proposed as a replacement for methyl bromide, as a fumigant for high-value crops such as strawberries. Methyl bromide is being phased out internationally because of its damaging effects to the ozone layer. Methyl iodide does not pose a risk to the ozone layer but studies show it is more dangerous to human health and poses a greater threat to groundwater and communities surrounding the fields.
Methyl iodide is a known carcinogen and neurotoxin and has been linked to late term miscarriages and birth defects.
Multiple environmental groups and farmworker advocates have asked Gov. Brown to reevaluate the use of methyl iodide in California. A lawsuit was filed last December challenging the process used to finalize the new regulations.
Methyl iodide was registered for use in the state after an external scientific review panel appointed by the Department of Pesticide Regulation determined “adequate control of human exposure would be difficult if not impossible.”
Because it would only be used after the growing season has ended, the first use by strawberry growers would not take place until late spring or early summer at the earliest.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency has also announced it will begin accepting public comment on a request that it reopen its review at the federal level. Methyl iodide was approved by the agency near the end of the George W. Bush administration. California is one of a handful of states that requires separate state approval before new chemicals can be used within its border.
If you or anyone you know has been exposed to methyl iodide or any other toxic chemical and have suffered personal injured, we can help.
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