Cancer-Causing Pesticide Heading To Local Farms
Methyl Iodide Approved By State Pesticide Regulators
Last Updated: 930 days ago
A toxic pesticide linked to cancer could soon be headed to fruit farms and flower fields in San Diego County.State regulators just approved the controversial chemical methyl iodide, and Kathryn Gilje of the Pesticide Action Network said, "It's a significant gamble for California to accept the use of methyl iodide."Methyl iodide, on the state's list of cancer-causing chemicals, was just approved by the state Department of Pesticide Regulation as a pesticide for fruits like strawberries, along with flower fields. It will replace methyl bromide, which is being phased out under international treaty to protect the ozone layer."It's a good thing at this point. Methyl iodide is a potential tool in our war chest," said Mike Mellano.Mellano owns one of the largest cut flower farms in the county, and he believes many of the hundreds of flower farms will use some of methyl iodide because it's effective against a broad range of insects and diseases."I'm very confident the usage of this material is very safe," said Mellano.Mellano also pointed out the pesticides are applied to the soil before the crops are actually planted. Tests have not shown any traces of the chemical in fruits or flowers.However, critics have pointed out there are risks to farm workers, neighbors and drinking water -- all which were brought up by the state's own scientific advisory panel.Experts said pesticide usage comes with severe restrictions, including tarps and buffer zones. Any grower must obtain a permit from the county and would be limited to certain times and quantities.Mellano believes those restrictions would severely limit the amount most local farms could use.Still, critics are worried."We've seen when they're used legally yet drift offsite. It's not worth the risk of Californians' health," said Gilje.Some growers said the pesticides may be needed to save farms, but others say they're trying to save lives.