Posted by The Vigilant Mom on September 1, 2011
By now, most people know that conventionally-grown strawberries are likely to contain high levels of pesticides. What most people might not be aware of is that an extremely toxic substance — so toxic some chemists are reluctant to even handle it — has been approved for use on strawberries in California. But this is not just a local California issue. California is a huge agribusiness state, and a lot of what is grown there makes its way to markets across the country.
Shocking to some in the health community, California approved the use of a substance called methyl iodide. Methyl iodide is a fumigant that will replace the use of methyl bromide, which was bad for the ozone. It’s one of those Life In Twenty-First Century America head-scratchers — replacing a substance used in the food supply that was bad for the ozone with one that is very, very bad for humans.
Methyl iodide is a known neurotoxin, is developmentally toxic and is an endocrine disruptor. It causes a lot of damage to cell structures that can result in a host of horrible illnesses, from disrupting developing tissue to cancer. Methyl iodide is so toxic that animal fetuses have died as a result of even very low exposure. And this, along with a sprinkling of sugar and some whipped cream, will be in the “healthy” summer treat we offer to our kids? Some in the medical community are alarmed. A professor from Duke who was on the scientific review committee that was asked to consider the use of methyl iodide, expressed his concern and urged the State Department of Pesticide Regulation to err on the side of caution and perform testing to assess the impact on human health, instead of just “going ahead and putting it into use, in which case the test animals will be the children of California.” Actually, the test animals will the children of America, as California supplies 90 percent of the nation’s strawberries.
What can you do? I hate to say it because I know it’s expensive, but when it comes to strawberries, buy organic. Meanwhile, California Governor Jerry Brown has agreed to consider the issue and possibly disallow the use of methyl iodide in California’s strawberries… which at least would be one less toxic substance in everyone’s favorite summer fruit.