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EPA approves controversial pesticide

Agriculture.com Staff 10/08/2007 @ 7:02am

The Environmental Protection Agency Friday gave the green light for one year's use of a new agricultural pesticide.

Methyl iodide, known as iodomethane, will be allowed to control soil pests "under highly restrictive provisions governing its use," the EPA said in a statement. Iodomethane can be used as a pre-plant soil fumigant to control plant pathogens, nematodes, insects, and weeds on strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, ornamentals, turf, trees, and vines.

The ruling came despite a letter from 54 scientists, stating their concerns that the chemical could be dangerous for pregnant women and children, the elderly, and farm workers. California's Department of Pesticide Regulation lists the chemical as a carcinogen, and says its use will not be allowed in that state before it concludes its own review, which could take a year, according to a report from the Associated Press.

"By using a thorough evaluation process, the agency concluded that there are adequate safety margins and the registration of iodomethane does not pose unreasonable risks," the EPA said in a statement. Among the restrictions for use of the iodomethane, buffer zones must be maintained, respirators must be worn, and no one will be allowed in the fields for five days after the chemical is applied.

Methyl iodide was developed by Tokyo-based Arysta LifeScience Corporation as an alternative to methyl bromide, which has been banned under an international treaty because of concerns it depletes the ozone layer. The new product will be sold under the name MIDAS.

The Environmental Protection Agency Friday gave the green light for one year's use of a new agricultural pesticide.

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