[Editor's note: March is "Chemical Month" on 13.7 Billion Years. From the neurotransmitters in our brains to the pesticides on our produce, from toxic substances found in most households to disease-preventing antioxidants, chemicals are both critical and dangerous to life on Earth. Each weekday this month, 13.7 Billion Years takes a look at a general chemical-based issue or a specific chemical from the vast laboratory of our daily lives.]
On March 17, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson opened a public comment period on a legal petition by the non-profit Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) calling for a nationwide ban on the use of the pesticide methyl iodide, a known carcinogen.
This follows the controversial approval in December by California's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) for the use of methyl iodide on the state's extremely valuable strawberry fields.
PANNA has hailed the decision to open up the public conversation about a chemical that has been linked to late-term miscarriages and neurological disorders, what UCLA chemistry professor John Froines said was "without a question one of the most toxic chemicals on earth," according to CaliforniaWatch.org.
In a statement, PANNA said that after working for over 5 years to ban the pesticide, it was a "big break" that the EPA was "reconsidering its decision on methyl iodide -- despite intense pressure from Arysta, the largest private pesticide company in the world, to keep it on the market."
In their public petition, PANNA is urging Ms. Jackson to "initiate a public process with USDA and President Obama to direct agricultural spending toward a green agricultural economy. Federal spending should support innovative farmers who grow food without reliance on toxic chemicals including synthetic fumigant pesticides, and scientists who document effective practices for fumigant-free farming. These farmers and researchers steward our natural resources and offer important engines for rural economic growth."
Public comments will be accepted through April 29.
The future of California's strawberry fields and the public health hangs in the balance.
- Sign the PANNA petition to ban the use of methyl iodide
- Submit your comment on the petition to ban methyl iodide to the EPA
- Stop eating pesticide-covered strawberries -- just grow your own
- Stop eating strawberries from far away -- just eat locally-grown strawberries
- Download the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides (PDF or iPod version)
- Follow 13.7 Billion Years on Twitter
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- Help Japan
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- Help animals in Japan: Donate to HSI International Disaster Fund
- Sign the Humane Society 2011 Boycott to Save Seals
image: Colin Grey, Wikimedia Commons