San Jose Mercury News:
Maker of methyl iodide scraps
The manufacturer of methyl iodide is pulling the controversial pesticide from California.
Late Tuesday, representatives of Tokyo-based Arysta LifeScience confirmed the "immediate suspension of product sales for all formulations of the fumigant MIDAS in the United States." The company said its decision was based on "an internal review of the fumigant and based on its economic viability in the U.S. marketplace," according to Amy Yoder, head of Arysta LifeScience North American business unit.
Before Arysta's confirmation, Assemblyman Luis Alejo said Arysta "absolutely" does plan to end sales of the fumigant, marketed under the name Midas, not only in this state but across the nation. That, he said, could send "shock waves" across the state's agricultural fields and particularly through the strawberry industry, which is losing its primary fumigant, methyl bromide, under an international treaty.
Alejo is urging Gov. Jerry Brown to immediately establish a working group to develop alternatives that will give farmers the tools they need to protect crops while ensuring the health of rural communities and farmworkers....MORE
Alejo: Maker of methyl iodide to withdraw fumigant from California and U.S.
Arysta LifeScience, the controversial fumigant methyl iodide, announced late Tuesday that it would withdraw the chemical which prompted state Assemblyman Luis Alejo to call on Gov. Jerry Brown to create a strawberry producer working group to find an acceptable replacement fumigant as methyl bromide is phased out of use.
Alejo, D-Watsonville, is calling on the governor to form the group to find safe and feasible alternative crop protection solutions for the agriculture industry.
“Together we need to find a safe and viable alternative to ensure maximum crop production in our state,” Alejo continues. “Today, I am asking Governor Brown to create a strawberry producer working group that will take a fresh look at protecting our agricultural economy and our workforce”...MORE
Monterey County Weekly:
BREAKING: Arysta to Pull
Methyl Iodide from U.S.
After more than a year of litigation and unrelenting activist opposition to the fumigant methyl iodide, manufacturer Arysta LifeScience late Tuesday announced its intention to suspend sales of the product in the United States.
Methyl iodide patent holder Jim Sims, the retired UC Riverside professor who developed the chemical for commercial use, confirmed the company’s plans to suspend sales of the fumigant prior to Arysta's announcement. "It’s a surprise, but it’s a business decision," Sims says. A company representative called him Tuesday morning to tell him the news.
"The decision was made as part of an internal review of the fumigant and based on its economic viability in the U.S. marketplace," Arysta's press release states.
“It’s having trouble making money. That’s the way it goes,” Sims says. “It’s like seeing one of your kids fail, is what the feeling is."
But some suspect there was more driving the decision than Arysta’s cash flow. A lawsuit filed by anti-pesticide organizations in December of 2010 calls into question the state’s process for approving all chemicals, not just methyl iodide. If Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch rules against defendants Arysta and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, proving a pesticide has been adequately examined could become much more onerous and costly....MORE
UPDATED: Arysta suspends
sales of Midas soil fumigant
Arysta LifeScience Corp., Cary, N.C., has suspended sales of all formulations of its soil fumigant, Midas, in the United States, effective immediately.
Existing supplies and tanks should be returned to Arysta, said an Arysta spokeswoman, who didn't want to be identified.
If a field has been already treated with Midas, Arysta will continue to steward the product....MORE
Monterey County supervisors urge governor to re-examine fumigant
Board's vote asks for another look at methyl iodide
With dozens of area farm workers looking on — many wearing headphones to hear a Spanish translation of the proceedings -- the Monterey County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday urged Gov. Jerry Brown to take another look at a controversial, highly toxic agricultural fumigant.
On a 4-1 vote, despite the urging of agricultural interests to wait and see, the board passed a resolution that urges Brown to re-examine the state's approval of the use of the carcinogenic fumigant, methyl iodide. The resolution mirrors one passed by the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors several months ago.
The fumigant is used mainly on Monterey County's $750 million annual strawberry crop to control earth-borne pests.
The state approved the use of methyl iodide in 2010 but was then sued in Alameda County on allegations that the state violated the California Environmental Quality Act.
The lawsuit also alleges that the California Department of Pesticide Regulation failed to consult the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment on worker protection. There have not yet been any applications to use methyl iodide in Monterey County.
A one-day trial was held in Oakland and a judge's decision could come any day.
After an hour of public hearing during which agricultural interests asked supervisors to take no action pending the court ruling, the board voted 4-1 on supervisor Fernando Armenta's motion to adopt the Santa Cruz action. Supervisor Lou Calcagno voted against the measure.
About 100 people — some wearing hats and United Farm Workers buttons — who Lideres Campesinas community organizer Paula Placencia identified as being mostly farm workers, packed the chamber.
Aurora Contreras, who listened to the hearing being translated, said in Spanish before the hearing that recall efforts could be started if the supervisors did not take some action on the fumigant. It was also personal for her.
"My father died of cancer," she said in Spanish, adding her father, a farmworker, died in 1991. She believes he died from pesticide exposure.
Manuel Barrientos, a farm worker at a mushroom farm in Santa Clara County, drove down to attend the hearing.
"It — the fumigant — is a risk for farmworkers," he said in Spanish, when asked why he was there.
...MORE: Click to see full story with photos
Supervisors ask Brown
to rethink methyl iodide
The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a resolution urging Gov. Jerry Brown to "re-examine" the registration of the agricultural pesticide methyl iodide and to "encourage more energy and funding" for the development of "non-fumigant alternatives."
The resolution, similar to one sent to the governor last summer by the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, was backed by local labor and health representatives, as well as about 100 farmworkers who showed up for the board hearing.
They argued that the pesticide, primarily used in strawberry fields, is a toxic substance linked to health problems and that the state's registration process is inadequate.
...MORE: Click to see full story
KION TV (CBS):
Farm Workers Want
Ban On Methyl Iodide
Click to see TV story
Click to see resolution
UFW News Release:
Monterey County supervisors join Santa Cruz County board by voting 4-1 to back methyl iodide ban
Salinas, CA - A Valentine Day's decision by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors to approve a resolution urging Gov. Jerry Brown to ban use of methyl iodide in the fields of California marks another victory for United Farm Workers' members and supporters. Last Nov. 8, county supervisors in Santa Cruz County, another key strawberry-growing area impacted by the toxic soil fumigant, voted unanimously for a similar measure.
The vote was 4-1 with Supervisors Fernando Armenta, Jane Parker, Dave Potter and Simon Salinas in favor and Supervisor Louis R. Calcagno opposed.
About 100 farm workers testified against the use of methyl iodide before the supervisors.
"It felt great because we're family-oriented people," said Miriam Garcia, a strawberry worker whose son was born with birth defects and is permanently disabled. "This is something that has to do with the health of the family. It's great they took that into account. We're the ones working in the fields. Then, we come home after work and our children hug us not knowing we have pesticides on us."
Garcia believes her son's health problems were caused by her exposure to pesticides while working in the strawberry fields during her pregnancy.
Seven growers opposed the proposed ban, but in the end Monterey County Board of Supervisors agreed to support the statewide ban on the pesticide methyl iodide commonly used in strawberries fields.
Methyl iodide is a known carcinogen that can also cause spontaneous miscarriages and contaminate groundwater. Injecting it as a gas into the soil presents unacceptable risks to farm workers, nearby rural communities, pregnant women and children.
Last week Gov. Brown appointed Brian Leahy as the new director of California's Department of Pesticide Regulation. This gives California an opportunity to reverse the decision by former Gov. Schwarzenegger's administration to permit use of methyl iodide. Currently, more than 85 percent of the country's strawberries are grown in California.
Click to go to web page
Monterey County says
no to methyl iodide
Last month, I wrote about the very real possibility that Monterey County — one of the biggest farm counties in California — would pass a resolution to ban the fumigant methyl iodide.
Well, on Tuesday morning, Valentine’s Day, the Moneterey County Board of Supervisors did just that. They’ll join Santa Cruz County (another big ag county) in urging California Gov. Jerry Brown to re-examine the registration and approval of this known carcinogen on farms.
...MORE: Click to see full story