Controversial strawberry pesticide methyl iodide pulled from US market

03/22/12 Kelly Benjamin
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Last year WMNF reporter Kelly Benjamin produced a report about the toxic fumigant methyl iodide being used in Florida on strawberry and tomato fields and how Florida's Department of Agriculture does not keep track of where the pesticide has been used. Now, after months of harsh criticism and a lawsuit on behalf of health, farmworker and environmental activist groups, the makers of methyl iodide are suspending all US sales.

On Tuesday, Arysta Lifescience, the manufacturer of methyl iodide announced that they are pulling the pesticide from the market in the US based on it's "economic viability." The announcement has been applauded by environmental and farm worker advocacy groups who claim the pesticide is far too dangerous for use in agriculture. Jeanie Economos is the Health and Safety Coordinator for the Farmworker Association of Florida.

The decision to pull methyl iodide from the market comes in the wake of a lawsuit brought by environmental groups in California aimed at overturning the approval of the pesticide in the state. Greg Loarie is an attorney with Earth Justice, a law firm that represents a coalition of farmworker and environmental organizations.

While Loarie says Methyl Iodide was only used 6 times in California, it's use in Florida was much more widespread. The problem is we don't know where it was used as Florida's department of Agriculture did not track it's use as they did in California.

WMNF contacted a representative of Aryta Lifescience who refused to speak on record about Methyl Iodide. Arysta's press release says they will continue to market methyl iodide outside the US.

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