California Grape and Tree Fruit League presses for fumigant approval

09/16/2009 11:20:56 AM
Andy Nelson

Methyl iodide has been approved for use in 47 U.S. states, and Barry Bedwell thinks it should be approved in California too.

Bedwell, president of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League, Fresno, and other Golden State industry leaders are lobbying the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to green-light the use of methyl iodide, a powerful fumigant used to keep pests, diseases and weeds at bay.

The approval of methyl iodide is of particular importance to California growers because of a ban on another fumigant, methyl bromide, which depletes the ozone layer.

Most states have taken, on average, about four months to consider the case for methyl iodide, then approve it, Bedwell said. In California, by contrast, it’s “22 months and counting,” Bedwell said.

Some California environmental groups oppose approval.

While he can understand that the process might take longer in California, given the size of the state’s industry, Bedwell is eager to see the process reach its conclusion.

“We hope they make a decision by the end of the year,” he said. “The reality is it’s not only being used in other states and countries, but it has a good safety track record.”

Bedwell acknowledged that methyl iodide must be closely regulation and handled “with extreme care,” but he said the same was true of methyl bromide.

Not approving the fumigant, he said, would be devastating to growers of California strawberries, carrots, peaches, plums, grapes and other produce commodities.

“The ultimate result would be the outsourcing of food production to other states and countries,”  Bedwell said.



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