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There’s quite the war being waged in Monterey County over the use of pesticides in the county’s plentiful strawberry fields. As we reported last month, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors voted in favor of asking California Gov. Jerry Brown to reconsider the use of pesticides like methyl iodide, which according to some is a cancer-causing agent. There are passionate supporters on both sides of the debate, which doesn’t look like to be resolved anytime soon.
Still, there’s hope. It was announced this week that the California Strawberry Commission and the Department of Pesticide are going to dedicate three years and $500,000 from a state grant to a joint research project in order to find alternatives to fumigant pesticides, including growing the berries in other substances that soil.
“This project shows our commitment to encourage and support development of effective and environmentally friendly ways to control pests," said the Department of Pesticide Regulation Director Brian R. Leahy in a press release. "Fumigant pesticides are an important tool farmers use to control a wide variety of pests and diseases. The objective of this project is to provide even more tools to safely and economically grow crops in our state."
It’s something California strawberry farmers have been dealing with for years. According to the Monterey Herald, the California Strawberry Commission has spent more than $11 million dollars over the past 20 years looking for an alternative to fumigant pesticides.