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"Mix & Match" — The mysterious math behind CA's methyl iodide decision comes to light

"Puzzled by some of the numbers...not scientifically credible...apparent 'mix and match' approach." These are some of the phrases found in a pair of memos authored by California officials looking into the state's controversial decision to approve methyl iodide.

The documents were unearthed by attorneys at Earthjustice earlier this week, working on behalf of PAN and the United Farm Workers, among others. They substantiate what independent scientists had been saying all along: state officials caved to pressure from pesticide manufacturer Arysta LifeScience and approved the use of cancer-causing methyl iodide in California.

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"Fumigating" the Capitol steps

With peak fumigation season in California just weeks away, efforts to prohibit the use of cancer-causing methyl iodide in the state’s strawberry fields have taken on a new level of urgency.

PAN joins partners today in Sacramento in staging a mock “fumigation” on the Capitol’s west steps at 12:30pm to underscore the dangers posed by methyl iodide, and to keep the heat on Governor Jerry Brown. Dressed in “moon suits” and wearing gas masks, participants will simulate the process for fumigating strawberry fields: injecting the liquid pesticide into the ground – where it volatizes and becomes a gas – and sealing it into the soil with black tarps.

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Tree-killing herbicide pulled from market

Dupont's new systemic herbicides, designed to keep turf grass free of troublesome weeds, seem to pose little direct danger to human health. But it turns out they do kill trees.

After receiving more than 7,000 reports of damaged or killed trees in states throughout the midwest, last week EPA ordered Dupont to immediately "halt the sale, use or distribution" of the company's herbicide Imprelis.

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Red berries create green opportunities

Red. Ripe. Delicious. That’s how you might describe the baskets of strawberries you see at your local farmer’s market or neighborhood store. What you don’t see are the green opportunities behind the berry – both environmental and economic – long before the fruit lands on your shortcake. And farmers say this deserves some attention.

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Pesticides found guilty of 'chemical trespass,' again

Whether they are sprayed from planes or injected into the soil, pesticides don’t recognize fences or property lines. But pesticide users are, again, being forced to pay property owners for damage caused by airborne drift when they cross those lines.

According to a decision handed down July 26 by a Minnesota court, organic farmers who are victims of this “trespass” are entitled to compensation for pesticide contamination.

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Farmer's markets = Economic growth

In a new report released just in time for National Farmers Market Week, economists at the Union of Concerned Scientists serve up some encouraging news: a relatively small investment in direct-to-consumer sales (such as farmers markets and CSAs) could yield a multitude of benefits, including tens of thousands more jobs, improved nutrition, and a boost to local economies – not to mention a fresher, more flavorful dinner.

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Monsanto empire hungry for sweet corn

Monsanto has announced it will start selling a new genetically engineered sweet corn directly to U.S. farmers this fall, the Los Angeles Times reports. In doing so, the biotech heavyweight will be directly challenging Syngenta, which has until now been the sole producer of the genetically engineered (GE) sweet corn sold at your grocery store since the late 1990s.

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Syngenta, keep your paws off the atrazine science

As the federal scientific review of the safety of atrazine wraps up, PAN continues to push for common-sense process: keep it transparent, and don't let industry influence undermine the fair use of science in government decisions. Are we worried? Unfortunately, yes. A recent look at the docket reveals a controversial, Syngenta-funded study.

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CA brings the heat on methyl iodide

The carcinogenic strawberry pesticide, methyl iodide, continues to make news. A farm in the California Central Valley recently became the fourth in the state to apply the fumigant, prompting tens of thousands of Californians to rattle Governor Jerry Brown’s cage, again. This time, they’re joined by 38 California legislators, who wrote a letter to Brown urging him “to take immediate action to prohibit the use of methyl iodide in California.” 

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Hopeful happenings in CA agriculture

Yesterday in Sacramento, CA, a new convening of sustainable ag forces held its first public meeting on the state of organic and sustainable agriculture in California. PAN traveled there to speak before the Select Committee on Sustainable and Organic Agriculture.

PAN's program coordinator Devika Ghai made the daylong journey to deliver a message:

"We urge you to be bold, practical and responsive to the realities of the timeline against which we are now working. 

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