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Strawberry Skirmish: California Becomes Battleground Over New Pesticide

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Perhaps this is another reason to go organic at the farmers market. Methyl bromide, a popular fumigant used on Strawberry fields from Ventura and up the California coast, is being phased out because it "depletes the earth's protective ozone layer," according to the Associated Press. In its place, the state's Department of Pesticide Regulation is proposing to allow the use of methyl iodide instead, which some fear is worse.

Methyl iodide has "caused miscarriages in laboratory rats and rabbits and is a known carcinogen, are among the most dangerous class of pesticide, since their gaseous state enables them to drift away from where they are applied," the AP noted, citing the Pesticide Action Network.

But the fumigant is already in use in southeastern states and there have been no related health cases so far. To that, opponents say it can take 10 years before long-term health affects like cancer to show up. Whatever the outcome, it will be a big one -- in California, the strawberry industry is a $1.6 billion one.