The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) issued a proposed decision today to approve the highly toxic fumigant methyl iodide for use in the state. The proposal comes just months after a state-commissioned study warned that any agricultural use of the pesticide "would result in exposures to a large number of the public and thus would have a significant adverse impact on the public health" adding that, "adequate control of human exposure would be difficult, if not impossible."
Representing a coalition of public health, labor and farmworker advocacy organizations from across the country, the nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice filed a petition last month asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban methyl iodide in light of the troubling new findings uncovered in California's studies.
The following is a statement from Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie, who filed last month's petition.
"It's extremely disappointing that the state is proposing to approve such a dangerous pesticide for use in our state. Especially considering the troubling findings uncovered in the state's own study into the health risks posed by methyl iodide, it is disturbing that officials are moving ahead with this ill-advised proposal. We are talking about a pesticide that's been linked to cancer and late-term miscarriages and, because it's a gas, easily drifts from the fields and into nearby communities.
"Families who live and work near California's tomato, strawberry and other fields will be harmed if the state moves forward with this proposal. There are safe alternatives to methyl iodide. There is simply no reason to be subjecting Californians to such serious health risks."