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California teachers demand State withdraw approval of methyl iodide

Monday, April 11, 2011By Richard Alexander

Scientists, environmentalists, and public health experts have all spoken out against the use of methyl iodide, a pesticide linked to cancers, thyroid disease, and late-term miscarriages. Now America's educators are joining the cause.

The California Federation of Teachers recently concluded its 2011 Convention, releasing a number of resolutions and constitutional amendments. Resolution One demands that the state of California immediately withdrawal the approval of methyl iodide until more research is conducted on the pesticide's potential health and environmental dangers.

Methyl iodide use impacts most of the state's residents, especially children. "The overall potential negative impacts of living and going to school near ranches, farms and fields on which methyl iodide is used for pest management — even with the legally required protections, application procedures, and buffer zones in place — pose unconscionable risks to the health and well-being of our children, their families, educators and school employees," the resolution read.

Methyl iodide's risks impact virtually all people who live or work near fields that use the fumigant. Chronic exposure to methyl iodide has been linked to cancers, late-term miscarriages, birth defects, thyroid disease, and neurological problems. Breathing it can cause vomiting, slurred speech, and kidney problems, while touching it can burn the skin. Despite the overwhelming health risks, the Environmental Protection Agency approved methyl iodide for use in the U.S., while California approved it's use in December of 2010.

The California Federation of Teachers are making three demands:

1) that California engage in further independent research on the health and environmental implications of methyl iodide;

2) that the state immediately withdrawal the pesticide's approval until this new research is completed, published, peer reviewed, and made publicly available in Spanish and English;

3) that California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) immediately divest in Permira, a private equity group, until the company stops funding the maker of methyl iodide, Arysta LifeScience or directs Arysta to stop manufacturing methyl iodide.

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