The consensus of scientists is that methyl iodide is one toxic pesticide. A known carcinogen and neurotoxin, methyl iodide also can cause late-term miscarriages. Despite what over 50 scientists, five of them Nobel laureates, stated in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the EPA registered it as a pesticide in October 2007. The letter urged the EPA to “do whatever is possible to prevent this chemical from ever becoming a registered pesticide.”
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) received over 53,000 comments from California residents expressing concerns about methyl iodide. The California Scientific Review Committee (SRC) found that using methyl iodide would “have a significant adverse impact on the public health.” Still, the DPR approved its use on December 1, 2010. New York and Washington did not approve the use of methyl iodide.
Earthjustice and California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. filed a lawsuit against the use of methyl iodide on December 30, 2010. Over 52,000 Californians petitioned Brown on his first day of office to oppose its use in California. On March 23, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown stated that he will reconsider the decision to permit uses of methyl iodide.
A legal petition was submitted to the EPA on March 31, 2010, and in August 2010 the EPA said they would reopen decision to approve it for public comment. The public comment period opened in March 2011, and received over 200,000 comments.
Over 35 California legislators, including Speaker of the Assembly John Perez, sent a letter to the EPA on April 4, 2011 asking it to “suspend cancel all uses of methyl iodide in the U.S.” A month later, over 35 scientists, three Nobel laureates, sent a letter to the EPA on May 7, 2011, urging it to cancel all uses of the fumigant. The letter stated:
“This rigorously conducted analysis indicates that methyl iodide cannot be used safely as a soil fumigant and serves as a sound scientific basis for U.S. EPA to cancel all agricultural uses of methyl iodide.”
“The science is in,” said Susan Kegley, a consulting scientist with PANNA. “An immediate withdrawal of methyl iodide from the market is the best strategy for preventing adverse effects from this highly toxic pesticide. Unless U.S. EPA wants to see more groundwater contamination, increasing numbers of late-term miscarriages in women who live or work near methyl iodide applications, more thyroid disease, and more cancers, they need to get this dangerous chemical off the market.”
Photo from the justified sinner via flickr