August 3, 2009

Calif. resumes methyl iodide peer review

A peer review of the pesticide methyl iodide has been reinstated after complaints that California officials were rushing its approval, officials say.

The state Department of Pesticide Regulation had suspended the review of the fumigant after California was hit by a budget crisis, but that move brought protests from environmentalists contending regulators were bowing to pressure from strawberry growers to approve the known carcinogen, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

A group of 27 state lawmakers last week urged Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to reinstate the peer review for the substance, whose use has been limited under the provisions of Proposition 65 as a carcinogen. The Times said animal lab tests have associated methyl iodide with miscarriages, cognitive impairment and thyroid problems.

Strawberry growers are anxious to use methyl iodide as a replacement for the banned methyl bromide. But a DPR representative denied to the Times that industry pressure was affecting its decision-making process.

A letter signed by more than 50 scientists, including five Nobel Prize winners, labels methyl iodide as one of the most toxic chemicals used in manufacturing, the newspaper said.