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Central Valley Leaders Protest Methyl Iodide in Fresno

Tracey Brieger, Californians for Pesticide Reform, 415-215-5473

Heather Pilatic, Pesticide Action Network, 415-694-8596

June 2, 2011


Fresno & San Joaquin Leaders Urge Ag Commissioner to
Follow the Science on Cancer-Causing Pesticide

More than 200,000 consumers agree, urging US EPA to rely on science
and face down corporate pressure, in forthcoming methyl iodide decision


Fresno & San Francisco, CA– Today, a diverse group of community leaders from Fresno, and throughout the Central Valley, will gather at the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioners office to protest the recent first use of cancer-causing pesticide methyl iodide in California, and to urge officials to prohibit any future use of the chemical.

The application of methyl iodide was the first of its kind in California, after the Department of Pesticide Regulation approved it in December, under tremendous pressure from the pesticide’s manufacturer Arysta. The decision by the state agency as well as its local counterpart, the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner, was taken despite the warnings of scientists who reviewed the chemical and called it “one of the most toxic chemicals on earth”.

“The Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner’s decision to allow the use of cancer-causing methyl iodide is disappointing and dangerous,” said Sarah Sharpe, environmental health director of Fresno Metro Ministry. “Today’s message to all California regulators is clear: do your job, protect public health, and support farmers as they transition away from toxic pesticides.”

“California officials are caving to corporate pressure,” said Paul Towers, state director of Pesticide Watch Education Fund. “Local and state government must stand up to the pesticide giant Arysta and seize California’s opportunity to invest in cutting-edge, green agriculture.”

Just last month, more than 200,000 consumers across a wide spectrum petitioned US EPA to ban the chemical nation-wide. “Overwhelmingly, people feel that the recent approval of methyl iodide is a blatant example of chemical company interests having more sway than science. We want the decision revoked, and we want to see government make common-sense rules on pesticides that follow the science, protect our health and support innovative, green farmers,” said Kathryn Gilje, Co-Executive Director of Pesticide Action Network North America.

“The science is crystal clear: methyl iodide is far too dangerous to use in agriculture where it can poison farm workers, wildlife, and surrounding populations.  It is grossly irresponsible of the EPA to keep this pesticide registered, and that’s why over 97,000 CREDO Action members submitted public comments asking the agency to revoke its approval,” said Adam Klaus, Campaign Manager for CREDO Action.

A letter submitted to EPA on May 7, 2011, authored by 39 distinguished scientists, including three Nobel laureates in Chemistry, notes that methyl iodide is: “one of the more hazardous chemicals used in research labs and in the chemical industry, and it seems counterintuitive that EPA would work on one hand to prevent and document relatively small releases of methyl iodide used in research and chemical manufacturing, while permitting what will likely be millions of pounds to be used annually in agriculture near homes, schools and workplaces.”




Available for Interviews:

Sarah Sharpe, Fresno Metro Ministry, Office: 559-485-1416 x117

Paul Towers, Pesticide Watch, Cell: 916-216-1082

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Pesticide Action Network

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