CA State Senator Dean Florez Convenes Panel Concerning Approval of Strawberry Pesticides

California Food Safety & Health

There is nothing quite like pulling over to the side of many California roads and highways to purchase and enjoy fresh picked Strawberries! When I do so, rarely do I make it home with any strawberries left.  Like me, it is a pretty good bet that you know little of serious potential health hazards that may be looming from something that tastes so good.  

Informational Hearing

“Evaluating the Health and Environmental Impacts of Methyl Iodide:

What Are the Alternatives?”

Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez, D-Shafter, who has become the defacto Legislative leader of food safety and consumer protection in the California State Senate, and is also a candidate for California Lt. Governor, will hold a hearing of the Senate Food and Agriculture Committee on Monday morning in Sacramento. The hearing will focus on investigating safe alternatives to the strawberry pesticide methyl iodide – a carcinogen which is believed to induce miscarriages and which poses a threat to groundwater – as state regulators prepare to decide if the chemical should be allowed for agricultural use in California.

Methyl iodide is proposed as a replacement for the fumigant methyl bromide, an ozone-depleting pesticide which is being phased out under the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement.

While methyl iodide is better for the ozone than methyl bromide, many argue that it is actually much worse for farmworkers and local communities.  Its use had been linked to cancer, miscarriages and neurological problems.  Last year, twenty-seven members of the State Assembly wrote to the Administration urging caution and calling for a commitment to outside review before approval.

Florez will convene a panel of researchers, regulators, farmers, farmworker advocates and concerned residents to discuss the risks to human health and the environment posed by methyl iodide, in anticipation of the Department of Pesticide Regulation’s consideration of plans to allow its use on California fields.

“It’s my understanding that there are much healthier alternatives on the table, for which there are even funds available to make them cost-effective to growers,” said Florez.  “I can’t imagine how we can ignore those alternatives when communities and human lives are at risk.”

Monday’s hearing will be held at 10:00 a.m. in Room 3191 of the California State Capitol Building.