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HUGE Win! Arysta pulls methyl iodide nationwide

Kathryn Gilje's picture
Kathryn Gilje
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Strawberry victory

After years of promoting their controversial pesticide in the face of scientific and public opposition, Arysta LifeScience has pulled cancer-causing methyl iodide off the U.S. market.

The Tuesday evening announcement ends use in this country of what scientists have called "one of the most toxic chemicals on earth."

Arysta's decision comes on the heels of six years of scientist opposition, and deep public concern over the undue influence of the pesticide industry on government. This, together with leadership from farmworkers, rural high school students, mothers, farmers and so many others, made this happen.

Scientists concerned from the beginning

EPA first registered methyl iodide as a pesticide in October 2007, despite a letter from more than 50 scientists, including five Nobel Laureates raising significant concerns:

It is astonishing then that the Office of Pesticide Programs is working to legalize broadcast releases of one of the more toxic chemicals used in manufacturing into the environment.

National approval came at the end of the Bush administration.

California's Scientific Review Committee (SRC), convened during 2009-2010, released its assessment of methyl iodide in February 2010, finding that:

any anticipated scenarios for the agricultural...use of this agent would...have significant adverse impact on the public health.

The scientists called methyl iodide "difficult, if not impossible, to control." John Froines, PhD, and chair of the SRC, put it bluntly during a 2010 Senate hearing on the issue, calling methyl iodide "one of the most toxic chemicals on earth."

But it was loud and persistent public concern across the country — and especially in California — that finally led Arysta to pull their dangerous product. Now the state has opted, instead, to invest in much safer alternatives.

Our work together turns next to standing alongside farmers in their transition off all fumigant pesticides. Bring on the berries!

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1

honoreddove wrote:

I am glad to hear that you are working on getting Arysta out of other countries also. My daughter in California told me that it was being used also on flowers and ferns that were being used in cut floral sales in California, I am sure it was probably being used all over and folks just weren't awar of it. So it will be a while before we see the last of it here in this country. As crop growers and business owners will use it until the ban is stead fastly in place and then most will use their surplus unkowingly till it is all gone. I refused to buy strawberries at my local grocer here in Texas that were not labeled where they were from so i could do all I could to find out what was used in their growth. I would ask the manager over the produce about the produce sources. If the person didn't know, I put the produce in his/her hands and walked away.

2

ckharris wrote:

i would have prefered that panna's celebration of arysta's decision be more balanced and acknowledge that arysta has made clear that it intends to continue to sell methyl iodide in all other countries of the world that do not forbid it . . .
as a larger and larger share of berries consumed in the u.s. comes from outside the u.s., i would have prefered that panna acknowledge that the effect of arysta's decision is to shift the negative health impacts of methyl iodide from u.s. workers and neighbors to workers and neighbors in other countries . . .
cheers,
craig harris

3

Kathryn Gilje wrote:

Dear Craig -- Thanks for your important comment! Indeed, Arysta will be marketing and selling methyl iodide in these specific countries: Mexico, Guatemala, Japan, Turkey, New Zealand, Uruguay and Morocco. Additional registrations are pending in Australia, Egypt, Israel and South Africa. PAN is an international network with five independent Regional Centers around the world: in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe. We are already discussing methyl iodide with our colleagues in these countries, and are very concerned about the pattern you suggest -- we are working on it, and I appreciate the feedback that would should have been clearer about it during our message this week re. the U.S., even with the U.S. and California strawberry market (where 85%+ of U.S. strawberries are grown) was where the current very live push is now for Arysta. You're right, we agree, are concerned and are working with partners around the world to prevent this being aggressively pushed there!