My little girl is barely 10-months and I just love to watch her eat a strawberry, leaving her little face and fingers red and sticky! But I only give her organic strawberries, and for good reason. At 10-months, her little brain and body are developing at a fast rate and residues of chemicals found in our food have been found to cause hormonal and neurological disruptions. A new study has linked children's attention-deficit disorder with exposure to common pesticides used on fruits and vegetables. And the growing consensus among scientists is that small doses of pesticides can cause lasting damages to our health, especially during fetal development and early childhood. As a result the name of the game is minimizing our and our children's exposure to these chemicals. The Environmental Working Group found that people eating five fruits and vegetables a day from their "Dirty Dozen" list consume an average of 10 pesticides a day! Strawberries are third in the list! (13 different residues found). That's good enough reason NOT to eat conventionally-grown strawberries if you ask me.
But if that wasn't enough, now the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is about to approve yet another dangerous chemical to be used as a soil fumigant for strawberry crops: methyl iodide. Methyl iodide causes cancer, is a known neurotoxin and thyroid disruptor and has also been proven to cause spontaneous abortions in late-term pregnancies. It is so toxic that it is used to intentionally induce cancer cells in lab settings. The DPR decision proposed approval comes just months after a state-commissioned study warned that any agricultural use "would result in exposures to a large number of the public and thus would have a significant adverse impact on the public health" adding that, "adequate control of human exposure would be difficult, if not impossible."
And for those of us who think we're protected because we don't eat conventional fruits, note that methyl iodide is a gas that easily drifts from the fields into nearby communities. In addition to threatening the life of farm workers, we are thus releasing a dangerous chemical that will affect many communities that live near farms.
Naomi Starkman, in her Huffpost piece, points out that "methyl iodide was developed as an alternative to the fumigant methyl bromide, a chemical which also has serious health implications and serious environmental impacts, and which is being phased out under the Montreal Protocol. According to PANNA, methyl iodide is by some measures four times as toxic as methyl bromide. Despite this, the DPR has decided that further restrictions would make the pesticide safe enough for use." But considering the danger of this chemical and its highly volatile nature, even the most restrictive conditions do no seem to justify its use. Especially considering the fact that alternatives exist!
FRESH has partnered up with CREDO Action and the Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA) to raise awareness and deliver thousands of signatures and comments to the EPA. I urge you to sign our petition and reach out to the EPA and demand that they ban yet another toxic chemical from entering our already battered food system.