Southern California environment news and trends

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.