I was disappointed to see the lack of balance in Dec. 9’s “Chemical warfare” story regarding the approval of methyl iodide. I had hoped the article would quote actual workers or farmers here in Santa Maria Valley rather than known opponents of pesticides as a whole, whose opinions are nothing if not predictable. These comments are alarmist and make light of the credit the Department of Pesticide Regulation deserves for a thorough, unprecedented evaluation of methyl iodide.
DPR’s staff reviewed more than 175 studies on possible health and environmental effects as part of their legal requirement to ensure that the pesticide may be used safely before registering it. As a result, DPR’s controls are significantly more stringent than the EPA’s. Virtually impermeable tarps, frequent air monitoring, site-specific permits, and restricted material guidelines are only some of the tighter regulations DPR has imposed. The approval of methyl iodide is hardly a carte blanche invitation for farmers to use this product. In fact, the combination of arduous restrictions and considerable expense will likely cause growers to use alternative fumigants.
For the past three years, methyl iodide has been responsibly managed and applied in 47 other states. Agriculture is such a valued part of our community; Santa Maria citizens should have a fair representation of the facts.