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11.21.2007

Thankful for Foods Without Pesticides

Now that we have the ability to purchase foods grown without pesticides in much greater variety and quantity, we still monitor what growers in Florida may be proposing to spray on their fields. Farmworkers in Florida continue to advocate removal of the most dangerous sprays such as methyl bromide that was sprayed on our tomatoes and strawberries to kill weeds and insects before planting.

Now comes a newer pesticide ( a fumigant) manufactured by the Japanese-based company, Arysta Life Science Corporation, since about 2002, under the brand name, MIDAS, that has been approved in several states, (including Ohio, Tennessee and Missouri) despite safety concerns raised by the farmworkers and others. MIDAS contains the active ingredient methyl iodide, which is believed to be a cancer-causing, mutating agent. (In a letter to the EPA in late September, more than 50 scientists urged the agency not to register the product, citing concerns about “cancer hazards,” and “thyroid toxicity, permanent neurological damage and fetal losses in experimental animals” exposed to the chemical.)

Arysta submitted an application for approval of its use in Florida in October. According to an article in Naples News quoting the Florida Department of Agriculture, its use is being considered, weighing its affect on "ground water (it's water soluble), the environment and human health. Following Florida's process for review, the product would be presented to the Pesticide Registration Evaluation Committee next month. Members of this Committee include scientists from the Florida Departments of Agriculture, Health and Environmental Protections. There may be public hearings.

Of note is that although the original methyl bromide was to be phased out complete not later than January 1, 2005, 50 large growers, claiming hardship, requested and received exemptions to this date from the EPA for a period of up to three years.

If you're considering one fruit to eat completely pesticide-free, strawberries might be the place to start. The Florida Strawberry Grower's Association** in Plant City has given its OK to use of MIDAS in their fields, saying it's better than methyl bromide.

**Full Disclosure---- Associate members of the Association include:

  • Arysta Lifesciences North America Corporation
  • BASF Corporation
  • Bayer Cropscience
  • Chemical Containers
  • Chemical Dynamics
  • Chemtura Corporation
  • Crop Protection Services of Florida
  • Diamond R Fertilizer
  • Douglass Fertilizer & Chemical, Inc.
  • Dow Agrosciences
  • and more. The full list is available on the Strawberrry Grower's Association website.

    The Naples News quoted Strawberry Association's Executive Director, Shawn Crocker's comment on MIDAS: "They've tested it to death."





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