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California's Approval of Methyl Iodide Challenged

Methyl iodide is a highly toxic pesticide and known carcinogen that’s used primarily in strawberry fields.

Methyl iodide is a highly toxic pesticide and known carcinogen that’s used primarily in strawberry fields.


Case Overview

Earthjustice is representing a coalition of groups and farm workers in challenging the California Department of Pesticide Regulation's approval of the cancer-causing strawberry pesticide methyl iodide. Wrongly touted by the manufacturer as environmentally superior to fumigants that contain methyl bromide, methyl iodide is in fact an extremely poisonous and dangerous pesticide that causes cancer and pollutes groundwater.

The suit challenges the DPR's December 20 approval of methyl iodide for use in California on the grounds that it violates the California Environmental Quality Act, the California Birth Defects Prevention Act and the Pesticide Contamination Prevention Act, which protects groundwater against pesticide pollution. In addition, the suit contends that DPR violated the law requiring involvement of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) in the development of farm worker safety regulations and made an unlawful finding of emergency with its request for Restricted Materials status for methyl iodide.

The chemical is approved to be applied to California’s strawberry fields at rates up to 100 pounds per acre on much of the state’s 38,000 acres in strawberry production, totaling millions of pounds of use. Though methyl iodide will likely be used primarily on strawberries, it is also registered for use on tomatoes, peppers, nurseries and on soils prior to replanting orchards and vineyards.

Case ID



Case Updates

January 10, 2013 | Feature

What You Don't Know Can Kill You

What’s colorless and may cause cancer? The chemical industry doesn’t want you to know the answer is styrene—but Earthjustice is taking them on to reveal the truth.

November 30, 2012 | In the News: Bloomberg Businessweek

Maker of methyl iodide ends US EPA registration

Ending more than five years of litigation, the manufacturer of a harmful pesticide methyl iodide has voluntarily ceased its production and permanently pulled the product off the market. The fumigant, used in non-organic farming via injection into the soil, has been linked to health risks and environmental pollution.

The announcement by the company follows a successful legal challenge to methyl iodide brought by Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie. "This is the final nail in the coffin," said Loarie.

April 13, 2012 | Blog Post

Farmworkers Savor Sweet Taste of Victory

In March of 2012, the maker of methyl iodide took the chemical off the market, less than a year after Earthjustice sued to protect strawberry field workers from the deadly pesticide. This means that those who labor on our behalf can themselves enjoy the fruits of their labor without fear of crippling or even fatal results.

March 21, 2012 | Press Release

Cancer-Causing Methyl Iodide Pulled

Manufacturer pulls fumigant pesticide off U.S. market, California officials urged to support safe transitions for strawberry farmers

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