Permit for Methyl Iodide recinded in Ventura County
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Permit for Methyl Iodide recinded in Ventura County

Tuesday, April 26, 2011By Richard Alexander
A grower in Ventura county recently applied for and was granted a permit to use methyl iodide on his fields but the permit was rescinded the following day.

An farmer whose fields are in the Oxnard area applied for a permit to use methyl iodide, a fumigant pesticide that is a known carcinogen and has been linked to, miscarriages, birth defects, neurological disorders, and other health issues.

Henry Gonzales, Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner issued the permit last Wednesday but then rescinded approval the following day after he learned that the area to be sprayed was within one-half mile of a playground.

It is a small victory but as a result Gonzalez has promised to do a complete investigation into all aspects of a permit before another one is issued.

Despite methyl iodide's known health risks, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the pesticide for use in 2007. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) also approved it's use in 2010 despite enormous opposition from environmentalists, scientists, and farmworker groups.

As protests from those same environmentalists, scientists, farmworker groups, non-profit groups and even the California Teachers Association, it looks like pesticide officials are starting to cave. The EPA recently opened up a public comment period on a petition filed a year ago by a coalition of non-profits. The petition asks EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to immediately remove methyl iodide from the marketplace until further scientific research is conducted on the pesticide's safety (or lack thereof). Shortly after the EPA's announcement, California's Governor Jerry Brown said that he would "take a fresh look" at the state's approval of the fumigant. Then just last week, members of California's Legislature submitted a letter to the EPA asking officials to re-evaluate the pesticide. The progress made in Ventura County is just one more sign that the numerous campaigns against methyl iodide are starting to make a big impact.

Methyl iodide is toxicity is well known to researchers and scientists. It's used regularly in lab settings to grow cancer cells. Exposure to the fumigant can cause cancers, late-term miscarriages, birth defects,  thyroid problems, and neurological issues, while just breathing in methyl iodide can induce slurred speech, vomiting, and kidney problems. Because methyl iodide is applied using sprayers the chance of contamination of the nearby homes, schools and business is also a grave concern.

The EPA is accepting comments until April 30th on the petition to pull methyl iodide from the marketplace. Take action now, and sign Pesticide Action Network's petition asking EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to withdraw approval for the use of methyl iodide in the U.S.

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