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Strawberry Pesticide Draws Critics

A newly-approved but controversial pesticide popular with California strawberry growers is once again facing calls for its prohibition.

Asm. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) at a news conference Tuesday with other critics of methyl iodide.
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Above: Asm. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) at a news conference Tuesday with other critics of methyl iodide.

Methyl iodide is used in nearly every state – and was approved by California regulators in the final weeks of Governor Schwarzenegger’s term. Now, Democratic Assemblyman Bill Monning and other methyl iodide critics want Governor Brown’s regulators to ban it.

“It is cancer-causing, it is birth defect-causing, it is a neurotoxin and it is a water contaminant,” Monning said. “That is not in dispute. What’s in dispute is can it be used and applied safely?”

But the California Farm Bureau Federation said it needs methyl iodide to combat pests and soil-borne diseases – especially because farmers are phasing out their use of a different pesticide, methyl bromide. The Farm Bureau also said California’s rules for using methyl iodide are far more stringent than federal standards.

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