The comment period for weighing in on a petition to ban the controversial chemical methyl iodide — an EPA-approved crop fumigant developed for strawberry production — is winding down this week. Those interested in weighing in on the issue have until April 30 to do so.

strawberriesmethyliodide-featured.jpgThe Environmental Protection Agency was petitioned last year by Earthjustice, on behalf of several other public health and farmworker NGOs, to revoke its 2007 approval of the fumigant because of serious human health concerns. Responding to increasing public interest in the topic, EPA eventually agreed to open up a formal docket for comments, even though it was not legally required to.

The comment period comes to an end just two weeks after a member of California’s State Legislature expressed their concern to top EPA officials about the chemical, which the $2 billion California strawberry industry insists is an important pest and disease management tool.

“Extensive scientific analyses have been conducted on methyl iodide and scientists have overwhelmingly concluded that the adverse health and environmental risks to public, worker, and environmental safety associated with this chemical are significant,” the assemblyman wrote to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. “Methyl iodide is a known carcinogen (Proposition 65 list), neurotoxin, and mutagen. Additionally, there is significant potential for contamination to groundwater. According to the chair of the Scientific Review Committee, Dr. John Froines, ‘there is no safe level of use for methyl iodide.’ “

Methyl iodide is not approved for use in New York or Washington state. A coalition of public health, environmental, and farm worker groups, including Earthjustice, is suing the state of California for its December 2010 approval of the chemical.

“We’re glad to see the Environmental Protection Agency taking this concrete first step toward repealing the last administration’s approval of this cancer-causing pesticide,” said Earthjustice attorney, Greg Loarie, in a statement last month.

The public can comment on the petition at, here.

  • Katie Denning

    Please stop and think about the chemicals your allowing to contaminate our food? Think about the children and what your allowing people to do to our food and health.

  • Robert Dolezal

    When, after five years of rigorous scientific scrutiny conducted by what the EPA Administrator described as “the most comprehensive and thorough in the agency’s history,” they registered methyl iodide in 2007 for use in the U.S.A., all of the false and misleading claims made in the petition and now repeated by California Assembly Member Monning were carefully reviewed and described in the agency’s Risk Assessment. More than 100 highly qualified scientists and toxicologists studied or tested methyl iodide in the lab and in the field during that review prior to granting registration. Strict mitigations and protective measures were included on the product label to avoid exposure to people or the environment of this very useful crop protection tool. In addition, the agency gave its inventors its prestigious Ozone Layer Protection Award in 2009.
    Methyl iodide is a naturally occurring compound produced by algae and kelp in the world’s oceans and terrestrially by plants, bacteria, and fungus–by the hundreds of thousands of tons annually.

  • kathy dubbs

    When will our elected officials stop catering to big business and start doing their job to protect and serve the American people?

  • Beverlee Patterson

    If agribusiness and the chemical companies have their way, we will all be ill or dead.
    I only eat organic or veggies we grow ourselves. You can’t trust the government agencies to take care of us as they are only in it for what they can get in kickbacks from big business, agribusiness, the chemical companies and the drug companies. They use us for their guinea pigs.

  • Jim Sims

    This is another slanted opinion piece which just repeats the propaganda put out by the pesticide action network. For a different opinion check out the following :

  • Lucia

    This is not a slanted opinion put out by pesticide action network! This is the truth!
    We need to ban this cancer causing pesticide….dangerous to farmworkers and consumers.