Activists file suit against state pesticide agency for methyl iodide approval
Sunday, January 2, 2011
A coalition of farm worker advocates and environmentalists filed suit in Alameda County Superior Court Dec. 30, asking the court to roll back the state Department of Pesticide Regulation's controversial decision to approve methyl iodide for use as a soil fumigant in California.
"DPR's approval of methyl iodide is irresponsible and illegal," reads the complaint filed by attorneys for California Rural Legal Assistance and EarthJustice on behalf of a number of organizations including the United Farm Workers and Californians for Pesticide Reform, and two individual farm workers—a strawberry picker and an irrigator—both of whom work in Monterey County.In California, methyl iodide is likely to be used most heavily in the state's $2 billion a year strawberry industry. It is a substitute for methyl bromide, which must by phased out by 2015 because it has been shown to damage the earth's ozone layer.
The attorneys argue that breathing methyl iodide, even in small quantities, causes slurred speech, vomiting, miscarriages, and permanent lung, liver, kidney and central nervous system damage, and point to its designation by the state of California as a carcinogen.
The further argue that the state had no justification for approving the chemical on an emergency basis, and broke the law in doing so.
The lawsuit asks for a stay of DPR's decision to register methyl iodide for use in California and a temporary restraining order and an injunction against its use.