How do you like your strawberries…big, juicy and sweet? Perhaps you like them tainted with injustice. Would you buy those strawberries knowing your dollar was the enabler for mentally damaging an unborn child or enabling the growth of cancer within the body of a field worker?
In December of 2010, California approved the use of Methyl Iodide for growing strawberries. According to UCLA Chemist John Froines, this is one of the most toxic chemicals on earth.
Here’s what other experts say:
1) “Causes brain damage in developing fetuses”
2) “High likelihood it is a developmental neurotoxin”
3) “Animal test show neurological deficiency”
4) “We’re worried fumigant will be inhaled by pregnant farm workers, nearby pregnant women or children, causing IQ loss”
Why would California approve such a potentially hazardous chemical for food cultivation? Governor Schwarzenegger appointed Mary-Ann Warmerdam to lead the Dept of Pesticide Regulation and it has been speculated that she let the chemical industry (money empowered lobbyist) overide her own scientists. She approved the use of Methyl Iodide against the advice of scientifically qualified professionals. Another influential factor may have been the strawberry industry. California produces 90% of the country’s strawberries (greater than $2 billion) and the industry is obviously motivated to keep yields high. Warmerdam has since resigned her appointment and now works for a large chemical company.
But all is not lost. In an attempt to ban the chemical, a coalition of environmental and worker groups has sued the state. They have been successful in getting a judge to order the release of hidden documents created during the chemical approval process. Warmerdam and others had previously refused to hand over this information. The suit is ongoing.
California farmers have already started using Methyl Iodide and they are expected to increase its use when strawberry planting season begins this fall. It will be the first full season with the chemical.
By purchasing strawberries grown with Methyl Iodide, we endorse and potentially share in the responsibility of creating a handicapped child; the thought of this is appalling.
What can WE do? The most direct way to send a message to irresponsible growers and retailers is to purchase produce grown by socially responsible farmers. Ask questions about your food before laying down the cash.
Let’s vote with our dollars. It’s the most powerful weapon we have.
pictures from: layoutcodez.net, strawberriesweb.com, ozarksunbound.com, now.org
Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.