(Oct. 11) After a weeklong delay, the Environmental Protection Agency approved a one-year registration for methyl bromide alternative methyl iodide, or iodomethane for agricultural use.

The registration was questioned by many in the scientific community, including 54 scientists, — several of which were Nobel Prize winners — who wrote a letter objecting to the fumigant on grounds that it is harmful to the health of farm workers and those who live near fields where it would be used.

The EPA countered that it used a risk assessment process for methyl iodide that was “one of the most thorough analyses ever conducted on a new pesticide.”

“When used according to EPA’s strict procedures, iodomethane is not only an effective pesticide, but also meets the health and safety standards for registering pesticides,” the EPA said.

The fumigant still must be approved by individual states before it can be used. Mary DeGroat, spokeswoman for the California Strawberry Commission, Watsonville, said the state’s strawberry growers plan to be cautious about the new fumigant.

“We’re going to wait and see if this alternative proves safe and then we can move forward,” DeGroat said.