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!