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Dr. John Froines, professor emeritus in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the Fielding School of Public Health speaks about a new report issued by UCLA's Sustainable Technology and Policy Program, a joint program of the Fielding School of Public Health and the School of Law, showing that in at least one case, the system failed by approving a chemical called methyl iodide for use on strawberries.
Methyl iodide is a neurotoxicant and is carcinogenic. It is known to cause lasting neurological damage, including psychiatric symptoms and chronic movement disorders resembling Parkinson's disease. It is also a developmental toxicant that has been shown to impair fetal development and cause fetal death at low doses.
Combined with a second fumigant, chloropicrin, methyl iodide was introduced as a substitute for methyl bromide, a widely used pesticide slated for phase-out by 2015 due to its ozone-depleting properties. While the methyl iodide–chloropicrin mixture was a promising alternative in terms of performance, it raised substantial human health issues. The Department of Pesticide Regulation approved its use in December 2010, despite opposition from scientists, environmental organizations and farmworker groups.