Strawberry Drama.

8 Jun

Read this disturbing article. The motives of so many companies to simply turn a profit rather than consider the safety of their employees, the environment, AND their customers boggles my mind. Read this:

Scientists Claim Warnings About Strawberry Fumigant Ignored
By Elise Craig on June 7, 2010

In California, pesticide regulators plan to approve a fumigant for coastal strawberry fields that experts say could expose bystanders and field workers to health problems, California Watch reports.

Scientists from the Department of Pesticide Regulation and peer-review scientists were shocked when exposure levels for the agricultural chemical methyl iodide were set 120 times higher than they recommended.

All eight of the peer-review scientists told California Watch that their recommendations must have been ignored. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” said panel member Ron Melnick. “Why have someone review a document when you’re just going to ignore it?”

Strawberry growers are looking to methyl iodide to replace methyl bromide, a fumigant that is being phased out because of damage to the ozone layer.

Studies show that the new chemical can cause miscarriages and thyroid cancer in rabbits and rats, and some scientists point to case studies that link the chemical to irreversible brain damage.

Because of health concerns — particularly what the chemical could do to the developing brains of infants and children — the review panel added the “uncertainty factor” when they set a recommended limit, lowering it by a factor of 10.

A Department of Pesticide Regulation spokesperson told California Watch that their risk managers had deemed the “uncertainty factor” unnecessary.” She also said that the scientists’ recommendations were only one part of DPR’s decision, and that the EPA had approved the chemical at levels even higher than DPR in 2007.

But EPA pesticide scientist Jeff Dawson said that the agency may re-evaluate the fumigant, and that the agency is interested in “the conclusions of the panel.”

The California State Senate will hold a hearing on methyl iodide on June 17.


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