On May 13th, the country's top scientists and 200,000+ ordinary people urged EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to prioritize scientific evidence over corporate influence and ban the cancer-causing pesticide methyl iodide. Called “one of the most toxic chemicals on earth” by Dr. John Froines, the chair of California's scientific review of the chemical, methyl iodide is promoted by Arysta LifeScience — the largest privately-held pesticide company in the world.
Here's the latest news:
About methyl iodide
Methyl iodide is a carcinogen — scientists use it in labs to create cancer cells — and can cause late term miscarriages and contaminate water. It is a soil fumigant that would be primarily used in the nation’s strawberry, tomato and pepper fields.
The chemical was approved for agricultural use by the Bush Administration’s EPA in 2007. Of the few states that conduct additional scientific review before allowing use of pesticides after they are first approved by U.S. EPA, both New York and Washington have refused to allow use of methyl iodide. California scientists commissioned to review methyl iodide concluded in 2010 that 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,” and “adequate control of human exposure would be difficult, if not impossible.”
These strong findings convinced Washington State to refuse methyl iodide, yet California’s Schwarzenegger Administration approved the pesticide for use at the 11th hour in December 2010, ignoring scientific evidence and the voices of over 50,000 Californians who opposed the registration. California provides 86% of the strawberries to the U.S. market.
U.S. EPA opened a public comment period in response to a petition filed in March 2010 by 11 public health, labor, environment and farmworker advocacy organizations from across the country. Subsequently, in response to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (CA) request that EPA decision-makers formally reconsider the decision to approve methyl iodide in August 2010, EPA officials agreed to open the most recent public comment period, but waited until March 2011 to solicit public input—generating this latest response by more than 200,000 people. Look here to see the comments.
I'm grateful for all who are engaged in this campaign with such integrity. Momentum is building, and I'm hopeful for the day when our food system is fully reclaimed from chemical industry control.