As the leading producer of organic produce in North America, Earthbound Farm has concerns about what appears to be the state of California’s likely approval of the use of methyl iodide as a soil fumigant for strawberries.
The assertion that strawberries cannot be grown on a large-scale without these toxic chemicals is not accurate. Every year, we and other organic strawberry growers produce substantial crops without them. We understand that farmers who don’t use organic methods have been seeking an alternate to the ozone-depleting methyl bromide for many years, but we are concerned that methyl iodide is seen as an appropriate substitution. While it's less harmful to the ozone than methyl bromide, it has more potential hazards to human health: it's a neurotoxin, a developmental toxin and an endocrine disruptor.
This is a particularly imprudent step in light of the fact that in May of 2010, the President’s Cancer Panel's annual report, "Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now," asserted that the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated because the typical way we've tested these chemicals doesn't provide a complete picture of their impact on environmental and human health, particularly in the long term.
At Earthbound Farm, since our beginning in 1984, we’ve been committed to producing salads, fruits and vegetables without the use of these toxic synthetic chemicals to protect the health of people and the planet. Organic farming is a system requiring a long-term commitment and integrative crop management strategies, which promote both a sustainable and sustaining ecosystem for our own and future generations. We believe approving the use of methyl iodide is step backward for California agriculture and the people who enjoy its harvest.