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Methyl Iodide - Dangerous Cancer Causing Pesticide Coming to the Produce Aisle

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« on: July 06, 2010, 07:05:33 pm »

Dangerous new pesticide coming to the produce aisle

Think strawberries are expensive now? Wait until they start costing people their lives!

California is about to sign off on an insane plan that would allow farmers to use one of the world's most dangerous chemicals as a pesticide on strawberry plants.

It's called methyl iodide, and even some chemists won't go near it. It's such a powerful and reliable carcinogen that researchers use it to induce cancer in lab animals.

But go ahead, take a bite. California says it's OK -- and never mind the five Nobel-winning chemists and dozens of other experts who've written a letter begging the EPA to keep this poison out of strawberry fields, forever.

Who do you believe -- a roomful of Nobel winners and their trusted colleagues, or a bunch of politically motivated bureaucrats?

This toxic monster has been linked to thyroid tumors, nerve damage, and brain and lung problems. It's also been known to cause miscarriages in lab animals -- when it's not being used to give them cancer.

No wonder it's such a great pesticide -- it can destroy just about anything. The pests don't stand a chance... and neither do you if you get too close to this poison.

Experts say a good breeze can even send methyl iodide airborne... and if you think U.S. groundwater is bad now, wait until this junk starts seeping in.

Think I'm exaggerating? I'm the last person to give in to pesticide fears -- because in many cases, those fears have been either exaggerated or completely unfounded.

Just look at DDT, an innocent victim of left-wing fearmongering. If it hadn't been banned due to some trumped-up nonsense over birdlife, we wouldn't be having these debates over newer and more powerful chemicals today... because we wouldn't need them!

But instead, the Frankenstein labs of the chemical industry have been working overtime, churning out new and more frightening creations -- and methyl iodide is their crowning achievement.

From poisoned fruit to contaminated water where you'd least expect it.

By William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.
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« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2010, 07:06:31 pm »

Methyl Iodide

What's at stake?

No Methyl iodideMethyl iodide is so reliably carcinogenic that it’s used to induce cancer in the lab. Even so, Tokyo-based Arysta LifeScience Corporation is pushing for its use. Arysta seeks approval for the use of methyl iodide as a soil fumigant - injected as a gas into the fields of communities across California and the U.S.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) first registered methyl iodide as a pesticide on October 5th, 2007, despite a letter from dozens of distinguished chemists saying that it is “astonishing” that the EPA is considering “broadcast releases of one of the more toxic chemicals used in manufacturing into the environment.” EPA initially limited its approval, registering methyl iodide for only one year. Then, during the final months of the Bush Administration, EPA quietly removed the time limits on its decision, effectively giving Arysta a green light for entry into the United States' market.

However, on September 25, 2009, U.S. EPA agreed to reopen its decision on methyl iodide, pending results of a California Scientific Review Committee. The science is in. The Committee's final report (PDF), which found (PDF) that "any anticipated scenario for the agricultural...use of this agent would...have a significant adverse impact on the public health," was posted on DPR's website on February 11, 2010. Scientists call methyl iodide "difficult, if not impossible, to control." Read the conclusions of the official Scientific Review Committee, convened by California's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).

Despite scientist concerns, on April 30, 2010, California proposed using methyl iodide in agriculture. A public comment period concerning the proposal closed on June 29th with more than 50,000 comments -- the vast majority of which were in opposition -- registered with DPR. The public outcry set a record for the most comments ever recieved by the agency in response to a pesticide registration decision. DPR's final ruling may come at any time, but may take months.

California's decision will have national implications

California's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has issued a provisional decision to approve methlyl iodide for use in the state despite the fact that is "known to the state of California to cause cancer" and it is listed under proposition 65. If methyl iodide is registered in California and becomes a popular replacement for the other fumigants, millions of pounds of itwill be released each year into the environment, especially in strawberry-growing areas where methyl bromide is currently used. (Methyl bromide is being phased out due to its serious environmental problems.)

During the September 2009 Scientific Review Panel hearing in Sacramento, U.S. EPA staff indicated they would reopen their national approval of methyl iodide, pending informaiton from the panel. Take Action >> A legal petition was submitted to U.S. EPA on March 31, 2010, urging a rethinking of their national decision. Sign the petition.

Recent news

    * The New York Times discusses how California's decision has national implications. June 18, 2010.
    * The Huffington Post notes that California regulators are ignoring the recommendations of its own experts, as well as those of independent scientists, in setting acceptable exposure levels for methyl iodide. June 7, 2010.
    * Thousands of concerned California residents are taking action by voicing their concerns to DPR, reports the Sacramento Bee. June 5, 2010. 
    * The San Francisco Chronicle calls methyl iodide a "cancer-causing poison." June 2, 2010.
    * Forty-nine scientists and five Nobel laureates have made statements opposing the usage of methyl iodide, reports United Press International. June 2, 2010.
    * Methyl iodide "would have a significant adverse impact on the public health", says the committee of scientists commissioned to review this toxic chemical. June 2, 2010.
    * "Methyl iodide is so toxic, lab scientists use only small amounts with special protective equipment." May 21, 2010.
    * California's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) proposes use of methyl iodide on farm fields, April 30, 2010.
    * Profiles of Poison: Californians who are survivors of pesticide poisoning tell their stories about why methyl iodide should not be legal. April 26, 2010.
    * California legislative hearing on methyl iodide held August 19, 2009. ABC News Television Coverage.
    * Letter (PDF) to California Governor Scwarzenegger and Department of Pesticide Regulation Director Warmerdam from State Legislators, July 27, 2009.
    * On July 7, 2008, Florida approved a conditional methyl iodide registration. On January 14, 2009, New York sent a letter to Arysta LifeScience accepting withdrawal of the corporation's applications to register methyl iodide products. New York cited concern "for significant worker exposure potential" and "for exposure to bystanders and nearby residents from both routine applications and mishaps associated with the application of these products."

Who makes methyl iodide? How did this happen?

Arysta LifeScience is the company that is working to register this chemical (the registrant). U.S. EPA released its preliminary assessment in January 2006, inviting public comment through February 21, 2006. Pesticide Action Network (PANNA) submitted detailed comments to EPA. Download these letters here:

    * PANNA's Technical Comment letter on methyl iodide (pdf)
    * PANNA's General Comment letter on fumigants (pdf)

During the public comment period, more than 12,500 individuals weighed in to tell EPA that they did not want methyl iodide used in their communities andworkplaces.

On April 19, 2006, U.S. EPA announced that it was denying registration for methyl iodide in 2006, and that the chemical might be reconsidered in 2007. On September 28, 2007, U.S. EPA announced that it had “conducted a thorough scientific evaluation of the soil fumigant iodomethane.” U.S. EPA registered methyl iodide on October 5th, 2007, taking the unusual step of registering the pesticide for only one year. Then, during the final months of the Bush Administration, EPA quietly extended the registration of methyl iodide. However, on September 25, 2009, U.S. EPA publicly agreed to reopen its decision on methyl iodide, pending results of an independent scientific review in California.

    * Quick Background Information on Methyl Iodide
    * EPA Health Risk Assesment Report

 Public Health at Risk

Fumigant pesticides are drift-prone chemicals injected into the soil at application rates of 50-400 pounds per acre. The maximum application rate for methyl iodide is 175 pounds per acre. Chemically related to methyl bromide—a fumigant scheduled for phaseout under the Montreal Protocol because of its ozone-depleting potential—methyl iodide is muchmore reactive than methyl bromide, reacting with air and water beforeit can be transported to the stratospheric ozone layer.[1]For this reason, methyl iodide is not an ozone-depleting chemical; nevertheless, there are a number of reasons why EPA should have refused the registration of this chemical.

Enough is known about this chemical to predict that its use for soil fumigation will result in unhealthy human exposures. A history of mass poisonings involving other fumigants is part of the basis for this prediction.

For a recent example, consider the 121 people who were poisoned in Nevada on September 26, 2007, even as EPA was days away from its decision on methyl iodide. EPA's proposed buffer zones for iodomethane are at most 500 feet. The farmworkers who were poisoned were in a field half a mile from the one being fumigated. One can readily see from this incident that EPA's maximum 500-foot buffer zones are a fraction of the size that would be required to prevent recurrences of poisonings. Unfortunately, "feasibility" dictates the buffer zone sizes as much as health protection.

Real-world incidents are corroborated by EPA's detailed models which show that the buffer zones they have settled on are inadequate a few percent of the time for those who are unfortunate enough to be in the downwind direction. The game of roulette depends principally on the weather on the day of the fumigation. Light winds and clear skies near sunset lead to "inversions" which keep fumigants escaping from the ground from dispersing. Under these conditions, the models show and real-world incidents confirm that unhealthy concentrations of fumigant gas build up over thefield and then slowly drift into neighboring communities.

Unless EPA's decision to approve methyliodide as a soil fumigant is reversed, farmworkers, rural communities,and new suburbanites whose properties face or abut fields will be at risk, particularly those in States with high fumigant use—California,Washington and Florida. Public health protection should be the primary consideration for pesticide registration, and EPA should use the 1-year registration as an opportunity to reverse its decision on methyl iodide.

Methyl Iodide is Chemically Reactive

Chemists use special techniques to protect themselves while handling even small quantities of methyl iodide in the laboratory. Source: PANNA Archives
Chemists use special techniques to protect themselves while handling even small quantities of methyl iodide in the laboratory. Source: PANNA Archives

Methyl iodide is widely used in chemical synthesis because of its extraordinary ability to react with electron-rich molecules. Specifically, it reacts readily with biomolecules like DNA, the genetic material in cells, in a process that alters the structure of DNA, causing mutations. Synthetic chemists treat this chemical with great respect, handling it only in a hood under an inert atmosphere and using specially sealed bottles and syringes for transfer to ensure that none of this highly toxic chemical escapes. The proposed release of massive amounts of this chemical into the environment is contrary to safe chemical management practices.

Methyl Iodide Will Contaminate Air and Water

Because methyl iodide is highly volatile, it is as drift-prone as other fumigants.[2] As a result, bystander inhalation exposure will be high if this chemical is applied as a soil fumigant. Methyl iodide is also a volatile organic compound (VOC) that will contribute to ground-level ozone, which is known to exacerbate asthma and other respiratory diseases.

Soil fumigation with methyl iodide poses a risk of groundwater contamination as well. A study of methyl iodide-treated soils demonstrated that cumulative volatilization losses from sandy loam soils ranged from 94% of the amount applied in non-tarped soils to 75% in soils covered with high-barrier tarps. [3] Tarping increased downward movement of the pesticide into the soil, which increased leaching into groundwater. The half-life of methyl iodide in soil depends on soil type, from 42 to 63 days for sandy loam soils and 9 to 13 days in soils rich in organic matter. [4]

Methyl Iodide is Acutely Toxic

Methyl iodide affects the nervous system, the lungs, liver, and kidneys. Symptoms of acute poisoning from inhalation include dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, diarrhea, slurred speech, lack of coordination, and muscle convulsions. [5] Methyl iodide is six times more acutely toxic than methyl bromide, and about twice as toxic as 1,3-dichloropropene (Telone).[6] To date, neither U.S. EPA nor California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation have set an acceptable level of human exposure for this chemical, but the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has set an eight to ten-hour worker (adult male) exposure limit of 10 mg/m3 based on the chemical's acute toxicity. [6] "Acceptable" exposures for children developed through risk assessment are typically 10-1,000 times lower than those for healthy adult males. EPA has listed methyl iodide as a Hazardous Air Pollutant generally known or suspected to cause serious health problems.

Methyl Iodide is a Carcinogen

The chemical reactivity of methyl iodide mentioned above has biological consequences. Vapors of methyl iodide induce DNA damage and are “mutagenic to bacteria in the presence or absence of an exogenous metabolic system” (the Ames test). [7] Methyl iodide is also commonly used to create mutant mammalian cell lines in the laboratory. [8]Radioactive labeling studies in rats demonstrate DNA damage to the lungs and digestive tract specifically caused by methyl iodide. [9]Because of this chemical reactivity, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommended that methyl iodide be considered as a potential occupational carcinogen, [10] and the state of California lists it as a chemical "known to the State of California to cause cancer." [11]

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) indicates that: "No epidemiological data relevant to the carcinogenicity of methyl iodide were available. There is limited evidence in experimental animals for the carcinogenicity of methyl iodide." Because of this lack of data, IARC lists this chemical as "unclassifiable" as to its carcinogenicity. [12] While there are no recent cancer studies in the primary literature, the older animal studies cited and described by IARC indicate that cancers resulted from exposure to this chemical in all experiments at most dose levels tested, and in some instances from only a single moderate exposure.[13]

    "Groups of BD rats (substrain and sex unspecified), about 100 days old, received weekly subcutaneous injections of 10 (16 animals) or 20 mg/kg body weight (eight animals) methyl iodide (purity unspecified) in arachis oil for about one year (total dose, 500 or 900 mg/kg body weight), or a single subcutaneous injection of 50 mg/kg body weight (14 animals), and were observed for life. Four and two animals in the first two groups, respectively (25%), died of pneumonia. Subcutaneous sarcomas occurred in 9/12 rats injected with 10 mg/kg body weight, in 6/6 rats injected with 20 mg/kg body weight and in 4/14 rats given a single injection of 50 mg/kg body weight. No subcutaneous tumor was reported to have occurred in control rats ... injected with arachis oil alone. Local tumors occurred more than one year after the first injection; histologically, these were fibrosarcomas and spindle-cell and round-cell sarcomas. In most cases ... pulmonary and lymph-node metastases were observed."
    [IARC. Monographs on the Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Man. Geneva: World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, 1972-PRESENT. (Multivolume work).V41 218 (1986)]

    Click here to download a summary of the animal studies that have been done to date.

In its recent risk assessment [14] EPA found that methyl iodide caused thyroid tumors, but invoked a previously unheard of cancer ranking -- "Not likely to be carcinogenic to humans at doses that do not alter rat thyroid hormone homeostasis." Download the EPA Cancer Assessment. It is worth noting that the Cancer Assessment Review Committee used only a single study to come to this conclusion -- a study in which 62-66% of the rats in both the control group and the high dose group died during the experiment and only 52-54% of the rats in the other dose groups survived (see p. 11 in the Cancer Assessment), bringing into question the scientific validity of the study. Of particular concern is that the registrant, Arysta LifeSciences, determined the number of tumors caused by methyl iodide only for animals that survived beyond the first year of the study. (See page 7 in the Cancer Assessment, footnote to table 1). In addition to the thyroid tumors observed in the survivors of the study, large and significant changes were observed in thyroid hormone levels, which are intimately tied to metabolic disorders and immune function. EPA did not evaluate the possible health outcomes of these changes. Other toxic effects noted by EPA include respiratory tract and salivary gland lesions, neurological toxicity, reduced body weight, and developmental toxicity (manifested as fetal losses and decreased live births). Download the EPA Health Effects Assessment.

Methyl Iodide Interferes with Metabolic Processes

Several studies indicate that at intermediate doses, methyl iodide interferes with both lipid and glucose metabolism. Injection of male rabbits with 57 mg/kg of MeI for 2 days resulted in a five-fold increase in plasma triglyceride levels, with a significant increase in the very low density lipoprotein (the "bad cholesterol") and accumulation of fatty deposits in the liver. [15]

Another study showed that when methyl iodide was injected into rabbits, basal levels of insulin and glucagons increased, and plasma glucose levels responded abnormally to insulin and glucose injections, indicating disturbances in the regulation of carbohydrate metabolism. [16]


   1. S.R. Yates, Methyl Iodide as a Replacement for Methyl Bromide: Environmental Implications, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, October 15, 1996.
   2. The vapor pressure of methyl iodide is 400 mm Hg, compared to 1,800 mm Hg for methyl bromide, 18 mm Hg for MITC and 29 mm Hg for 1,3-dichloropropene (Telone).
   3. J. Gan, et al., J. Env. Qual. 1997, 26: 1107–15, as cited in the Hazardous Substances Data Bank, National Library of Medicine.
   4. J. Gan and S.R. Yates, J. Agr. Food Chem., 1996, 44: 4001–8, as cited in the Hazardous Substances Data Bank, National Library of Medicine.
   5. Methyl Iodide Product Information,
   6. a) Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values and Biological Exposure Indices, American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, Inc., 6th ed. Volumes I, II, III. Cincinnati, OH: ACGIH, 1991, p. 1013.
      b) Methyl Iodide, Chemical Health and Safety Data, U.S. National Toxicology Program.
   7. Methyl Iodide (Iodomethane), Air Toxics Website, U.S. EPA.
   8. M.M. Moore, D. Clive, Environ. Mutagen., 1982, 4: 499-519.
   9. Carbon-14 labeling studies indicate that methyl iodide methylates DNA, with DNA adducts detected in the stomach, forestomach, liver and lung of male and female rats exposed to [14C]-methyl iodide orally or by inhalation. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Man, Geneva: World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, 1999, 71: 506.
  10. Monohalomethanes: Methyl Chloride, Methyl Bromide, Methyl Iodide, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, September 27, 1984, page 22.
  11. California Proposition 65 list, California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.
  12. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Man, Geneva: World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, 1986, 41: 222.
  13. IARC monographs on the Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Man, Volume 15 (1977), 41 (1986) and 71 (1999).
  14. Iodomethane Preliminary Risk Assessment, US EPA, Docket ID #EPA-HQ-OPP-2005-0252, Go to Docket.
  15. H. Matsui, et al., Sangyo Igaku, 1982, 24: 85-89.
  16. H. Matsui, et al., Hormone Metab. Res. 1982, 14: 676-67.

See the complete list ofresources about pesticide drift.
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« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2010, 10:07:28 am »

Dr. Susan Kegley Methyl Iodide testimony Cal. State Assembly

Dr. Susan Kegley recieved her Ph.D. in Ph.D., Organic and Inorganic Chemistry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Postdoctoral in Organometallic Chemistry, Colorado State University and University of California, Berkeley. This is testimony at the California State Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment. According to the Panna web site,"Methyl Iodide is so reliably carcinogenic that its used to cause cancer in the lab. Even so, Tokyo-based Arysta LifeScience Corporation proposes methyl iodide be used as a soil fumigant for strawberries and other crops in California and the United States. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered methyl iodide on October 5th, 2007, despite a letter from dozens of distinguished chemists saying that it is astonishing that the EPA is considering broadcast releases of one of the more toxic chemicals used in manufacturing into the environment.

Dr. Kegely mentioned that methyl iodide significantly cause damage to pregnant women, children and the elderly and anyone near methyl Iodide and can cause miscarriages, brain damage, thyroid damage and yet undiscovered problems once it is in the environment, "It can't be brought back."

In a letter from Cornell University, Mr. Stephen Johnson said, "As chemists and physicians familiar with the effects of this chemical, we are concerned that pregnant women and the fetus, children, the elderly, farm workers, and other people living near application sites would be at serious risk if methyl iodide is permitted for use in agriculture". Pesticide Action Network has concluded that, "California's decision will impact the health of its workers, frontline communities, air and water - while triggering a review of its uses in states across the nation."

Dr. Neil Schore: testimony Methyl Iodide hearing

They will have to use 3 times as much Methyl Iodide to get the same effect on the crops and Methyl Iodide is considerably more toxic than methyl bromide.

Dr. Neil Schore received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Columbia University in 1973. He is professor and vice-chairman of the Chemistry Department at UC Davis. He believes that, "The preponderance of scientific evidence suggests that methyl iodide has no place in agriculture. The risks to health, both farm workers and communities, are far too great." and "Methyl iodide also causes cancer, thyroid disease, and nervous system poisoning. Methyl iodide is considerably more toxic than methyl bromide and also considerably heavier. It therefore contaminates the ground level air for much longer, rather than dissipating rapidly into the upper atmosphere. Finally, methyl iodide is a very persistent contaminant of both soil and ground water, remaining present in significant amounts for many months." "When mixed with groundwater it becomes methyl alcohol."

Methyl Chloride
Methyl Bromide
Methyl Iodide

Dr. Bob Spear: testimony Methyl Iodide hearing

Testimony Testimony Methyl Iodide hearing - This chemical is very toxic to the environment.

TOXIC STRAWBERRIES - coming to California ?

California strawberry farms could soon become toxic sites, if governor Arnold Schwarzenegger succumbs to industry pressure to bypass scientific review by the states Department of Pesticide Regulation and allows growers to apply methyl iodide, a potent fumigant that kills every living organism in the soil. He is expected to make a decision in the next two weeks.

Methyl iodide was introduced to agriculture as a replacement for another sinister fumigant called methyl bromide, which was phased out of the nations fields (except for allowable exemptions) in 2005 because it was a major contributor to depletion of the ozone layer. Methyl iodide may not harm the atmosphere, but its effects on animals and humans is another matter entirely: Exposure to the chemical has been found to cause thyroid toxicity, neurological damage, and fetal loss in lab animals.

This is what they want to replace...

Methyl Bromide

What Methyl Bromide Means To You [JoAnn Stuke Diethrich]
This is a very important video!!! JoAnn Stuke Diethrich is very clear and concise.

The Phaseout of Methyl Bromide

Methyl bromide (MeBr) is an odorless, colorless gas that has been used as a soil fumigant and structural fumigant to control pests across a wide range of agricultural sectors. Because MeBr depletes the stratospheric ozone layer, the amount of MeBr produced and imported in the U.S. was reduced incrementally until it was phased out in January 1, 2005, pursuant to our obligations under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Protocol) and the Clean Air Act (CAA). Under the Montreal Protocol and the Clean Air Act, the production and import phaseout for methyl bromide followed this schedule:

1993 to 1998    Freeze at 1991 baseline levels
1999 to 2000    25% reduction from baseline levels
2001 to 2002    50% reduction from baseline levels
2003 to 2004    70% reduction from baseline levels
2005    100% phase out -except for allowable exemptions such as critical use exemptions agreed to by the Montreal Protocol Parties
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« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2010, 10:11:22 am »

Kathleen Collins Ph.D. Testimony Methyl Iodide hearing

Dr Collins is a cancer cell specialist at UC Berkeley.
Dr. Collins says, "UC Berkeley Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) regulations classify methyl iodide as the most toxic category of compound (zero-release, class C). This is a greater hazard level than most radioactivity (class B) ... The type of DNA methylation damage caused by methyl iodide has both short-term toxicity (from repair-induced delay of cell growth or damage-induced cell death) and cumulative long-term [damage] impact (by permanent genome mutation, leading for example to cancer). ... There is growing awareness than some DNA modifications will be copied over by a DNA polymerase if they are not repaired in advance of DNA replication, thus increasing the probability of genome mutation. Genome mutation in somatic tissues (most of our body) accelerates the progression of cancer. Genome mutation in germline cells (cells that develop into sperm and egg) leads to infertility and disease inheritance. ... Methylating agents are widespread environmental carcinogens that generate a broad spectrum of DNA damage."
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« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2010, 10:12:27 am »

EPA approves methyl iodide use. No surprise.
Posted on: October 9, 2007 7:09 AM, by revere

Fumigating the soil before planting pretty much kills any pests that might be in it. Unfortunately the fumigant tends to seep up through the soil and expose workers and others nearby. When the highly toxic fumigant methyl bromide was banned under the Montreal protocol as a greenhouse gas an ozone depleting gas, growers started looking for a replacement. Now the EPA has approved one, methyl iodide. If you know any chemistry, you might suspect that replacing one halogen with another might not solve the problem. Indeed methyl iodide is nasty. If you want to use it you must employ a certified applicator, establish a buffer zone of 25 to 500 feet around the fields, no use within a quarter mile of a school, day care facility, nursing home, hospital, prison or playground. And if you are a shoveler, tractor driver or applicator you have to be trained and you have to wear a respirator. Farm workers can't re-enter the fields for five days after application.

The EPA seems satisfied that these precautions will all be honored and are themselves sufficient. Not everyone agrees:

    Despite the protests of more than 50 scientists, including five Nobel laureates in chemistry, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday approved use of a new, highly toxic fumigant, mainly for strawberry fields.

    The new pesticide, methyl iodide, is designed for growers, mainly in California and Florida, who need to replace methyl bromide, which has been banned under an international treaty because it damages the Earth's ozone layer.


    In a letter sent last month to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, 54 scientists, mostly chemists, warned that "pregnant women and the fetus, children, the elderly, farmworkers and other people living near application sites would be at serious risk."

    Methyl iodide is a neurotoxin and carcinogen that has caused thyroid tumors, neurological damage and miscarriages in lab animals.

    But EPA officials said Friday that they carefully evaluated the risks and decided to approve its use for one year, imposing restrictions such as buffer zones to protect farmworkers and neighbors.

    "We are confident that by conducting such a rigorous analysis and developing highly restrictive provisions governing its use, there will be no risks of concern," EPA Assistant Administrator Jim Gulliford said in a letter sent Friday to the scientists. (LA Times)

One reason the chemists were so concerned is that they have first hand experienced with methyl iodide:

    Many of the chemists -- who use small amounts of methyl iodide in their laboratories to attach molecules and are careful to avoid exposure -- said they are shocked that the EPA is allowing its use as a pesticide because it can drift into neighborhoods and pollute groundwater.

    "It is potentially really toxic, and it's certainly very reactive. From what we know about its chemistry, we know this stuff reacts with DNA. It mutates it. So it's prudent to be as careful as you can with it," [Robert Bergman, the Gerald E. K. Branch Distinguished Professor at UC Berkeley's chemistry department] said in an interview Friday.

Of course EPA has its own experts on methyl iodide:

    The manufacturer, Arysta, has spent eight years and more than $11 million collecting toxicological and environmental data to persuade the EPA to register methyl iodide as a pesticide.

    Arysta's former chief executive, Elin Miller, is now a top official at the EPA and was appointed administrator of its northwest region last year.

It's not clear how much methyl iodide will be in use because California, along with Florida the chief venue for its use on strawberry fields, has yet to license it and it says it will take its own sweet time in doing so. The restrictions are expensive, another disincentive for use. Finally, the EPA is overhauling its regulations for all fumigants, so they only licensed it for one year.

So what's the hurry? Once licensed and in use it becomes harder to discontinue. In a year they can include it with all the other fumigants. Just in time to get it all done before the next administration. That's the hurry.
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« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2010, 10:15:29 am »

This is why they supposedly want to get rid of it.

Methyl Bromide Alternatives

UC scientists are working on alternatives to methyl bromide - used for years as a soil fumigant, particularly in strawberry fields. Methyl bromide is an odorless, colorless gas that the Environmental Protection Agency has classified as an ozone-depleting substance and a national phase-out is currently underway.

and why it's a scam.

Is the Ozone Layer Threatened?


Dr. Baliunas is a Senior Scientist at the George C. Marshall Institute and the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Doctors for Disaster Preparedness 13th Annual Meeting Grants Pass, OR. Aug. 1995

Dr. Baliunas shows how the ozone layer depletion scare was just the first stage in the global warming scam. It is not disappearing and it never was. It does not protect us from cancer causing rays and never did.
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« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2010, 10:17:12 am »

Methyl iodide pesticide gets state approval despite links to cancer
Environmental, farmworker groups link methyl iodide to cancer
Associated Press
Posted: 12/02/2010 01:30:08 AM PST
Updated: 12/02/2010 09:02:42 AM PST

FRESNO — California regulators approved a pesticide Wednesday for use by fruit and vegetable growers despite heavy opposition from environmental and farmworker groups that cited its links to cancer.

The state Department of Pesticide Regulation will register methyl iodide as a substitute for the pesticide methyl bromide, which is being phased out by international treaty because it depletes the protective ozone layer.

California's $1.6 billion strawberry industry will undoubtedly provide one of the biggest markets for the chemical, as will the Central Valley's nut orchards and the fresh flower nurseries dotting the coast in Ventura and San Diego counties.

The pesticide is included on California's official list of cancer-causing chemicals, and the department's scientific advisory panel has raised concerns that it could poison the air and water.

The agency tentatively approved its restricted use in April and Wednesday's decision made it final.

Regulators insist the fumigant can be used safely and say permits will be required and strict guidelines will be followed.

"The process has been more complex because of methyl iodide's toxicity as well as because of the intense public interest," director Mary-Ann Warmerdam said.

The precautions, which include setting up buffer zones within which it can't be applied and the use of tarps to keep fumes from escaping the soil, go further than those imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or by any other state, and will be in place later this month, Warmerdam said.

Still, Assemblyman Bill Monning, D-Monterey, whose temperate coastal district produces strawberries year-round, said he was disturbed by the approval after several hearings in Sacramento about the pesticide's health impacts.

"I think there is sufficient scientific evidence to say that this chemical is unsafe at any speed," he said. "With a limited state budget, it is going to be very different to rely on agricultural commissioners to provide enough oversight and monitoring if this goes into use extensively."

A United Farm Workers official offered similar comments.

"We're very disappointed," said Erik Nicholson, national vice

president of the union. "We feel that profit has trumped science and human health."

Methyl iodide was championed as a safe replacement for methyl bromide when the EPA approved it for use in 2007.

The pesticide is registered in 47 other states. Users include growers of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and other crops in southeastern states.

Officials with Tokyo-based pesticide giant Arysta LifeScience Corp., which markets the product under the brand name Midas, said the approval will help California's farmers stay in business even as the cost of farmland and labor keeps rising.

"The end result is you've got good quality fruit and vegetables to consume, and you have an abundant supply at a cost that the consumer is interested in," said Jeff Tweedy, head of business development in North America for Arysta LifeScience Corp., which makes the pesticide.

This week, a coalition of environmental and farmworker groups urged Gov.-elect Jerry Brown to reopen the decision immediately and ban methyl iodide in California after he is sworn in Jan. 3.

A top Monterey County agriculture official said the pesticide would be used safely.

"This was a long and considered process," said Bob Roach, assistant county agricultural commissioner.

"We're prepared to fulfill our role in issuing restricted material permits. As this is a new material, we'll be giving the applications a high level of scrutiny. We want to make sure it is used safely, correctly."

Norm Groot, executive director of the Monterey County Farm Bureau, called the state decision "a good step forward."

The chemical will be tightly controlled, he said, by the kind of crop it is used on and where it is used. People who oppose the use of methyl iodide should examine how it is already being used safely and effectively across the country, he said.
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