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Barry J. Bedwell: Fumigant Keeps Agriculture In Business

Fresnobee.com


The Bee's editorial board recently opined that the soil fumigant methyl iodide, which has received a conditional registration from the Department of Pesticide Regulation as a restricted material in California, may be "legal, but not worth it."

The Bee's editorial board recently opined that the soil fumigant methyl iodide, which has received a conditional registration from the Department of Pesticide Regulation as a restricted material in California, may be "legal, but not worth it." The editorial questioned why such a "toxic" material would be approved for use here in spite of objections raised by a group of 52 scientists as well as some in the environmental and anti-pesticide community.
With such an emotional issue, it is vitally important that the public understand the rationale behind such a decision and why DPR took approximately three years in coming to the current conclusion.
First, in regard to the question of why do we have soil fumigants at all we need look no further than a University of California, Davis, analysis requested by the California Department of Food and Agriculture which stated that without fumigants the negative economic impact in this state would be approximately $1.58 billion accompanied by the loss of over 23,000 jobs.
Fumigants are a vital tool to rid the soil of pathogens and disease that rob yields. Without them most consumers would not be able to buy food at affordable levels. And while every grower I know would love to grow food without chemical inputs, the reality is that most consumers demand price levels that are not compatible with organic production.
Second, as to why methyl iodide, the answer is understandable when looking at the requirements of the Montreal Protocol which is phasing out methyl bromide due to its ozone depleting characteristics. Methyl iodide does not harm the earth's ozone layer.


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