CALIFORNIA: State pesticides department resumes review of methyl iodide
Posted: August 3rd, 2009 - 11:44am
Source: Los Angeles Times
Facing accusations that they were fast tracking approval of a known carcinogen, state pesticide regulators have resumed a review of the fumigant methyl iodide for use on strawberry fields.
A peer review of methyl iodide had been suspended during the state budget crisis, prompting concern from legislators and environmentalists that the agency and the governor were bowing to industry pressure to approve the chemical as a substitute for the banned fumigant methyl bromide.
In a letter sent last Monday to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state Department of Pesticide Regulation, 27 state legislators urged state officials to look more closely at the risks of methyl iodide, a compound listed under a provision of 1986's Proposition 65 as a carcinogen.
Laboratory tests on animals have linked methyl iodide to miscarriages, cognitive impairment and thyroid toxicity.
"We were surprised to learn that your administration has begun to explore the possibility of 'fast tracking' the approval of methyl iodide through an abbreviated process that could make it available for use as early as this fall," wrote Assemblyman Bill Monning (D-Carmel) and state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) in the letter.
On Wednesday, the Department of Pesticide Regulation announced plans to resume a peer review and denied that any plan had been afoot to fast track the chemical. It also announced plans for a public hearing in September.
Methyl iodide, manufactured by Tokyo-based Arysta LifeScience Corp. under the brand name Midas, would provide a replacement for methyl bromide, an ozone-depleting fumigant that is being phased out through an international agreement.
"Growers are anxious for a replacement for methyl bromide, but DPR is committed to following the scientific process before making a decision on the registration of methyl iodide," said a representative of the Department of Pesticide Regulation in an e-mail.