Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The following appeal is for solidarity with California farmworkers who may be exposed to the potentially dangerous fumigant methyl iodide if the California authorities "fast track" its approval. The appeal is from the United Farm Workers.
TAKE ACTION: Chemical industry urges CA governor to ignore science:
We've written to you before about methyl iodide. Thousands of UFW supporters have written to California authorities and begged them to do the right thing and refuse approval of this deadly, mutagenic compound.

This highly toxic new pesticide is currently being given a comprehensive review by the Department of Pesticide Regulations and the agency's registration decision is pending advice from a panel of scientists convened specifically to review this chemical.

However, according to inside sources, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is being pressured by corporate interests to fast-track registration of this toxic pesticide--despite serious concerns from the state's own scientists at the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).
"Methyl iodide is so toxic that scientists working with it in the laboratory take extreme precautions when handling it, using a ventilation hood, gloves, and special equipment for transferring it so it does not escape to the air," notes Dr. Susan Kegley. "This degree of protection is not possible in an agricultural setting where the pesticide would be applied at rates of 175 pounds per acre in the open air. Buffer zones of 400 feet for a 40-acre fumigation would still result in a dose of methyl iodide to neighbors that is 375 times higher than DPR believes is acceptable. For workers, the numbers are much worse, with exposures estimated at 3,000 times higher than DPR's acceptable dose for some tasks."

Methyl iodide's manufacturer, Arysta, withdrew its New York application for registration after state officials raised concerns about groundwater contamination and potential exposure for workers, bystanders and nearby residents--especially children, pregnant women and the elderly.

Now the industry is asking California's governor to order DPR to fast track the registration of this deadly fumigant. This is not acceptable. Please take action and tell the Governor to keep methyl iodide of California's fields.

Please go to THIS LINK to send the following letter to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,
I am writing to urge you to allow science and public process to take their due course in the review of methyl iodide, a dangerous new fumigant pesticide.

California's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is currently weighing the public health risks associated with registering methyl iodide as a soil fumigant in California. DPR's plans include convening an independent Scientific Review Panel -- a critical step to ensure scientific integrity of the decision.

Methyl iodide is a known carcinogen and prone to drift. It has no appropriate place as a new chemical in California agriculture--one of the largest agricultural states in the U.S.
Bush's USEPA registered this chemical last year despite serious concerns from environmentalists, farm workers, rural residents and a group of over 50 eminent scientists, including five Nobel Laureates. These scientists expressed profound concern for the health of people living near methyl iodide application sites--especially pregnant women, farm workers, children and the elderly.

However, this is no excuse for California to bow to the pressure of agribusiness and introduce a new pesticide to our environment. There is overwhelming evidence of potential harm from exposure to this pesticide--a chemical so toxic that scientists take precautions to use methyl iodide in a ventilation hood in very small quantities. In contrast, if registered as a soil fumigant, methyl iodide would be applied in agricultural fields at rates up to 175 pounds per acre. Since fumigants spread as a gas, they drift from the application site, poisoning neighboring residents and farm workers in nearby fields.

California needs to follow the example of New York where Methyl iodide's manufacturer, Arysta, withdrew its application for registration after state officials raised concerns about groundwater contamination and potential exposure for workers, bystanders and nearby residents--especially children, pregnant women and the elderly.

Methyl iodide is a clear threat to public health, could contaminate groundwater, and is not needed to build a secure, viable and healthy agricultural economy in California. We strongly urge you to not fast-track the registration of methyl iodide. Instead allow DPR's process that incorporates independent scientific review and public input to proceed as planned.
Thank you.

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