Iowa Public Television


U.S. Delays Approval of Farm Pesticide

posted on September 28, 2007

(AP) The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday delayed approval of a new toxic fumigant for use by fruit and vegetable farmers, after more than 50 prominent scientists objected that the chemical was too dangerous. The agency had said that a decision would be announced by Friday on registering methyl iodide, also known as idomethane. But in an unusual move, it said Friday that officials "will address recent questions prompted by the pending registration of iodomethane." The agency received a letter this week from 54 scientists, including six Nobel Prize winners, who said they were astonished the EPA was considering approving such a toxic chemical for agricultural use. "The gratifying thing is that EPA has been responsive to people who are really concerned about this," said Robert Bergman, University of California at Berkeley professor who organized the scientists' letter. The letter criticized the agency's scientific analysis, calling for an independent scientific review of the science. The fumigant was developed to replace the highly effective fumigant methyl bromide, which is banned by an international treaty because it depletes the earth's ozone layer. Both fumigants are injected into soil before planting and do not leave a residue on the produce itself. Community groups said fumes may escape from the soil and harm farmworkers or nearby residents.

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