In March, we stopped the pesticide industry from pushing a cancer-causing chemical into California strawberry fields. Together, we won an incredible victory when Arysta LifeScience — maker of methyl iodide — pulled its hazardous product off the U.S. market.
Now, we turn to "what's next," the important work of ensuring that strawberries truly get off the pesticide treadmill.
California is poised to stimulate an innovative transition away from the use of all methyl iodide-like pesticides (fumigants) on strawberries — protecting health and the soil, both, for future generations. Yet without continued public insistence on this path forward, our progress on methyl iodide could backslide into reliance on hazardous technologies of the past.
You'll be hearing from PAN and partners in the coming weeks about what's happened since we stopped methyl iodide. One key development we'll be following closely: the California Governor's office pledge to create a plan to end reliance on all fumigant pesticides (i.e. methyl iodide and all its cousins) over five years. This would mean the end of some of the most dangerous chemicals currently used in agriculture. But ongoing public insistence — indeed, an activated food democracy — is vital to ensuring we aren't thwarted by the chemical industry.
The next step? The Governor's expert panel on strawberries will issue a report in the next four months on plans for the transition to safe, healthy strawberry farming methods. In the words of PAN senior scientist Margaret Reeves,
The future of agriculture — quite literally — rests on the ability to build and maintain healthy, vibrant soils. A new plan for strawberry farming should set us on that course.
PAN will heartily support farmers that blaze this new trail, and policy that does the same. And we'll remain on watch to guard against backtracking.
Join us, and stay tuned for developments moving forward. It will take all of us, working together, to ensure that we convert our win around methyl iodide into a true opportunity for transforming the way we farm this most delicious fruit. One step forward at a time.