Re-Visiting Methyl Iodide Use in Strawberry Production

methyl iodide use in strawberry productionAs I have mentioned before, there is somewhat of a debate when it comes to the safety of using the fumigant methyl iodide to sterilize soil in which strawberries are grown for human consumption.  California produces the vast majority of American strawberries.  And, Californian farmers depend on the highly effective fumigant to meet the ever-increasing demand for affordable strawberries in supermarkets and grocery stores across the country.

However, there is great concern that using the chemical during the production of strawberries will contaminate the final product and will make the berries unfit for eating.  The government has consistently proclaimed the use of methyl iodide safe.  Independent groups have consistently proclaimed the use of methyl iodide unsafe.  Each side is summarily represented by the comments left by Robert Dolezal (pro) and Mike Robertson (con) in the comments section of this post.

Rodale News has recently published a series of articles on methyl iodide use in strawberry production.  The author of the series of articles is clearly opposed to use of the fumigant.  Here are the articles:

First, some history: Strawberry Fields (Poisoned) Forever
Then, more info: Poison Strawberry Memos: Pesticide Approval Process Ignored Science
Lastly, a call to action: Poisonous Strawberry Process Begins—Stop the Spread!

Do you have an opinion?  Leave a comment!

3 comments to Re-Visiting Methyl Iodide Use in Strawberry Production

  • Ed Baxter

    Thank you so much for the information. I had been following the methyl iodide debate for a while until a few months back, and was wondering what the U.S. government’s final decision on the matter was. I am a staunch believer in organic farming, and I don’t think anything good can ever come out of artificial additives like methyl iodide, whether on a long-term or short-term basis.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Carolyn,
    Thanks for the information and the update! Much appreciated!

  • Carolyn O'Donnell

    Methyl iodide is no longer available for use in the United States. In March 2012, the manufacturer withdrew all US sales and stocks of the material, and requested that the California Department of Pesticide Regulation withdraw registration for use.

    Methyl iodide was registered for use to control soilborne plant diseases, to prepare the ground long before the plants are planted or workers are in the fields. In the brief time that methyl iodide was registered for use in California, it was used once for strawberries, in a small corner (5 acres) of a field in a remote location.

    The best place to get updated facts about methyl iodide in California is the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation(DPR) website: http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/registration/methyl_iodide.htm

    Before methyl iodide was withdrawn from the market, the California Strawberry Commission and DPR announced a research partnership to find viable ways to grow strawberries with out the use of fumigants. http://www.californiastrawberries.com/?e=app.news.detail&news_id=67 The commission has been funding this type of research for years; the DPR partnership provides the funds to take the trials to field scale.

    More information about the commission’s research can be found at http://www.calstrawberry.com/research/researchreport.asp

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