UPDATED: The Quiet, Official End of Methyl Iodide in the U.S.
November 21, 2012
The regulatory nail in the coffin of the controversial fumigant methyl iodide came quietly today, with a notice in the Nov. 21 Federal Register that manufacturer Arysta LifeScience is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to cancel its registration for methyl iodide.
The notice comes eight months after Tokyo-based Arysta announced it would voluntarily pull methyl iodide from the U.S. marketplace, based on the viability of domestic sales.
The request for withdrawal would end that voluntarily suspension from the U.S. market. Without EPA approval, pesticides cannot be sold domestically, and a number of states, including California, also require their own additional layer of regulatory approval.
The EPA is accepting public comment on Arysta's request through Dec. 21, but notes in the Federal Register announcement that the agency intends to grant Arysta's request for withdrawal, "unless the agency receives substantive comments within the comment period that would merit its further review of the request."
"The EPA and Arysta LifeScience have entered into a memorandum of agreement to formally terminate all agricultural use of [methyl iodide] in the United States by the end of 2012," according to a statement released by the EPA.
Methyl iodide was first registered by the EPA in 2007. Linda Frerichs, an Arysta spokeswoman, says the company has no future plans to bring the fumigant back to the U.S. in the future. She declined to comment on how the product is faring internationally.
Researchers in the strawberry industry have already started a search for alternatives to fumigation as methyl bromide, which is a known ozone depleter, is being phased out in keeping with international treaty.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation awarded $500,000 to the California Strawberry Commission for alternatives research. (Commission President, Mark Murai, is pictured above, at a test plot near Watsonville.)
For more on methyl iodide, visit www.mcweekly.com/methyl.