Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Company ends U.S. distribution of controversial strawberry pesticide

Mark J. Terrill/AP

Just as the war over strawberry pesticide methyl iodide (also known as “Midas”) that we've been following was really heating up, it’s ended in the most abrupt fashion. As reported by MSNBC, Japanese manufacturer Arysta LifeScience announced this week that they’ve stopped all sales, marketing and production of the product in America.

"It's a financial decision," said a spokesperson for the company to the Grower. "It will allow Arysta to refocus its resources on other business."

The debate over the health risks of methyl iodide had reached a fever pitch recently, as the Monterey County Board of Supervisors voted in favor of California Gov. Jerry Brown to reconsider using it over claims that it causes cancer.

"Arysta saw the writing on the wall and decided to pre-emptively pull cancer-causing methyl iodide off the shelves," said Paul Towers, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the state's decision to authorize its use to the Ventura County Star. "This is an opportunity for California's leaders to help our farmers transition away from the use of fumigants.”

"The bigger issue is the loss of a tool," lamented California Strawberry Commission spokeswoman Carolyn O'Donnell. "In terms of being able to get rid of soil-borne diseases, the tool belt is getting a little emptier."

UPDATE: An earlier version of this post mistakenly identified Arysta as a Chinese company.