Methyl iodide, a highly toxic pesticide intended for large-scale plantings of strawberries and other fruit crops, gained approval from the EPA in 2007 and the California Department of Pesticide Registration in 2010. Yet its maker, chemical giant Arysta, abruptly yanked it from the US market Tuesday.
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What happened? Methyl iodide's inglorious exit ends a saga that exemplifies corporate capture of the regulatory agencies and the potential for popular organizing to push back against it.
Arysta was marketing methyl iodide as a replacement for methyl bromide, which large-scale strawberry growers have come to rely on to sterilize soil before planting. Methyl bromide has two problems. The first is that is a powerful destroyer of ozone. The second is that it's highly toxic to the farm workers who handle it and for the people who live near fields treated with it. Its ozone-destroying qualities ran it afoul of the Montreal Protocol of 1987, which banned its use internationally. US growers have continued using it under annual "exceptions" ever since.
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