Southern California environment news and trends

Fines levied in California for selling banned peach pesticide

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The current battles being waged across the state of California over pesticides continue to grow, most notably in regards to the embattled strawberry industry. But it's not just strawberries, as it was announced this week that a pair of pesticides dealers in the San Joaquin Valley have been fined $105,000 for selling an unauthorized pesticide to peach farmers.

As reported by the New Farm Press, Gar Tootelian Inc, and Britz-Simplot Grower Solutions LLC, were charged $60,000 and $45,000, respectively, for selling pesticide Comite in Fresno and Tulare counties. Gar Tootelian was charged with the practice from 2008 through 2010, Britz-Simplot from 2009 through 2010.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of Comite on peaches back in 1996 for being a potential carcinogen to fish and amphibians.


New task force tackles strawberry pesticide alternatives

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Norbert Millauer/AFP/Getty Images

California’s strawberry industry has taken a substantial hit this year in terms of pesticides. Just as controversy over the use of methyl iodide was coming to a boil (opponents of the chemical claim it causes cancer), the pesticide’s Japanese manufacturer, Arysta LifeScience, pulled it from the American market.

With methyl iodide already a replacement for the pesticide methyl bromide (phased out after being cited as an ozone-depleting agent), California’s strawberry farmers have been left with little alternatives to combat insects and diseases that attack their crops.

As reported by the Southwest Farm Press, the Department of Pesticide Regulation has put together a special panel of scientists, farmers, and industry advocates to create a five-year plan of action for finding alternative ways of handling the situation without the use of controversial chemicals. The task force has been given until the fall of this year to draft a plan.


California Strawberry Commission and Department of Pesticide Regulation launch fumigant research partnership

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Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

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.