February 2, 2012
Methyl iodide was registered for use more than a year ago in California, but for almost that long the fumigant's been languishing in courts and possible reconsideration in the state Department of Pesticide Regulation.
“It’s definitely on the radar,” California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross told the Weekly last fall, noting that Governor Jerry Brown wouldn't take any action before appointing a director to DPR to replace outgoing Mary-Ann Warmerdam.
Brown filled that vacancy Thursday by appointing Brian Leahy, who's been assistant director of the California Department of Conservation since 2006. Leahy is a former director of the California Certified Organic Farmers and was himself a farm owner and operator for more than 20 years.
Leahy's biography describes him as "one of the pioneering organic and biodiversity farmers in California." He also helped found an international fair trade company as well as an urban garden educational non-profit.
Anti-pesticide organizations applauded the appointment. "Director Leahy brings a much needed new perspective to DPR, rooted in his experiences as a successful farmer, as a nonprofit manager, and as a public servant," Pesticide Action Network spokesperson Paul Towers says. "He has a unique opportunity early in his term to prioritize making agriculture increasingly safe, healthy and climate-friendly." PANNA is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against DPR and methyl iodide manufacturer Arysta LifeScience.
Leahy's starting salary at DPR will be $142,965.