Carcinogenic Strawberry Pesticide Update

Coalition sues California over approval of cancer-causing strawberry pesticide; 52,000 comments submitted urging Governor Brown to reverse decision

As the outcome in California has an impact on us all, I promised I would keep you updated on this.  So...from PAN North America Website:

On Governor Brown’s first day in office, a coalition of farmworkers, community advocates and environmental health organizations announced a lawsuit to challenge the state's approval of the cancer-causing strawberry pesticide methyl iodide. Several of the organizations also submitted comments from over 52,000 members of the public urging him to act quickly to prevent the use of methyl iodide in California’s fields.

The suit challenges the state Department of Pesticide Regulation’s (DPR) 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 that 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 farmworker safety regulations and made an unlawful finding of emergency with its request for Restricted Materials status for methyl iodide.

Methyl iodide causes late term miscarriages, contaminates groundwater and is so reliably carcinogenic that it’s used to create cancer cells in laboratories. It is included in California’s Proposition 65 list of “chemicals known to cause cancer.

“The public has been shocked, wondering how methyl iodide could be approved under California law. The truth is that DPR played too fast and loose with their decision,” said Greg Loarie, Attorney with Earthjustice. “They exceeded their legal authority and have put the public and farmworkers at great risk of harm.”

In deciding to approve methyl iodide, DPR shunned the findings of top scientists—including the state’s own Scientific Review Committee—who have consistently said that the chemical is too dangerous to be used in agriculture. Upon hearing the decision, Dr. John Froines, chair of the Committee, told press, "I honestly think that this chemical will cause disease and illness. And so does everyone else on the committee."  Theodore Slotkin, another panel member and professor of pharmacology and cancer biology at Duke University, wrote, "It is my personal opinion that this decision will result in serious harm to California citizens, and most especially to children.”


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