Thursday, March 24, 2011
Methyl iodide will face renewed scrutiny from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The agency is asking for public comment on a nearly year-old petition filed by farmworker and environmental advocacy groups that calls on the government to rescind its approval of the controversial fumigant.
News of the move came just a day after state Department of Pesticide Regulation Director Mary-Ann Warmerdam, under fire for rushing methyl iodide through an emergency approval process last December, resigned to take a job with Clorox.
The public now has until April 30 to comment on the pending petition, filed last March by a dozen advocacy groups including United Farm Workers, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and Pesticide Action Network North America.
A spokeswoman for Arysta LifeSciences, the North Carolina-based manufacturer of methyl iodide, did not respond to a request for comment in time for the Weekly’s deadline.
State Assemblyman Bill Monning, chair of the California Assembly Committee on Health, last month convened a hearing on DPR’s approval of methyl iodide, at which scientist John Froines said the department took a “fanciful and even ludicrous” approach to mitigating the fumigant’s effects on workers and rural residents.
Now Monning, who has also asked for federal scientific review, says, “The quickest remedy would be for the EPA to cancel the registration. California would be the greatest beneficiary of a federal ban.”
Following a 30-day public comment period, “EPA will evaluate the petitioner’s request” and reconsider registration in 2013.
California, along with a handful of other states, conducts additional review to register a pesticide for use after US EPA approval has been granted.
After Warmerdam steps down March 29, Chief Deputy Director Chris Reardon will act as director until Gov. Brown makes a new appointment. Reardon was first appointed to DPR by Gray Davis in 2003.
“We hope that the Brown administration will consider leaders in green agriculture,” says Paul Towers of Pesticide Watch.