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Environment & Science

Monterey County supervisors vote to reconsider strawberry fumigant

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Pesticide methyl iodide has been generating controversy for years. By the time the State of California approved its use on local crops, California Senator Diane Feinstein had already called the fumigant into question over findings that it causes cancer. 

Last week, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 in favor of a resolution that asks California governor Jerry Brown to take another look at the just how safe it is to use the much-debated chemical, according to the Californian.

It’s a hotly contested debate in Monterey County, as methyl iodide is used to fumigate strawberry crops, which is a $751 million industry in the county. It had been approved by the EPA as a replacement for pesticide methyl bromide in 2007, with California’s Department of Pesticides getting onboard in 2010, despite methyl iodide being on the state’s list of cancer-causing agents.

While many applaud the move to ultimately ban the pesticide, not everyone agrees. A guest editorial in the Monterey Herald questions the regulation, with agricultural scientist Glen Kardel stating: “if methyl iodide is not used on strawberry fields in Monterey County, the crop will be greatly reduced, along with employment of workers in strawberry production, sending unemployment rates and welfare costs soaring, with an attendant hardship for families of farmworkers.”

On which side of the methyl iodide debate do you stand?

CORRECTION: The original headline of this blog post was misleading. The Board of Supervisors vote does not directly lead to the banning of methyl iodide.