LOS ANGELES – California environmentalists are using the online social networks to ask Gov. Jerry Brown to ban the use of methyl iodide pesticide on strawberry farms due to its neurotoxic and cancer-causing effects in humans.
“Methyl iodide is a very dangerous pesticide for workers and residents who live near the fields where they ... use it,” Kathryn Gilje, the executive co-director of the Pesticide Action Network of North America, told Efe.
“It causes cancer and (late-term) miscarriages, among other effects. Therefore, several groups of environmentalists are (using) ... the social networks like Facebook, Twitter and blogs to ask people to demand that it not be used in the fields,” she added.
The activist said that efforts to convince the state and federal authorities about the dangers of methyl iodide began four years ago when more than 50 chemists expressed their concerns about the effects of the compound to the Environmental Protection Agency.
“The (George W.) Bush administration approved the use of the pesticide in October 2007; but in California where a second review is done it was approved by the (state) Department of Pesticide Regulation in December 2010, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor,” Gilje said.
“The current governor, Brown, can ban its use and therefore we’re asking him to hear our concerns in the petition; on the federal level we’re asking the same of the EPA,” she emphasized.
The organizations participating in the effort are directing their supporters to www.change.org where to date 28,923 people have signed an online petition, which is there to pressure Brown to reverse the approval of methyl iodide.
Teresa De Anda, a representative for the organization Californians for Pesticide Reform, told Efe that along with PAN and other environmentalists groups last December they managed to get more than 700,000 California residents to sign letters of opposition to the pesticide’s approval.
Erick Nicholson, the vice president of the United Farm Workers, told Efe that his organization also opposes the use of the pesticide.
He said that it has been proven that methyl iodide causes neurological disorders that manifest themselves in behavioral changes, learning deficits or autism, among other effects.
“We farm workers of the UFW ... don’t want them to start using us like laboratory mice. The companies earn a lot of money with that chemical; but we’re getting poisoned, diseases are showing up in us and we’re dying,” Nicholson said. EFE