From:         Ken Barger <kbarger@IUPUI.EDU>
Subject: [FLOC] Methyl iodide campaign


 As many of you know, farmworkers are regularly exposed to hazardous agricultural chemicals which cause acute neural, respiratory, intestinal, and other problems, sometimes resulting in death.  Many of these chemicals are also associated with cancers, miscarriages, long-term neural damage to fetuses and children.  Some chemicals like methyl bromide are in fact biocides, killing all living organisms.  But these products also show up in our homes and workplaces, as well as in the foods we eat.

Methyl iodide is such a hazardous chemical.  We are astounded that the EPA is actually considering to register this chemical for standard use as a pesticide.  Several years ago, a FLOC worker was almost killed from exposure to methyl bromide, which methyl iodide is designed to replace.  After months of intesive medical treatment, he still suffers seizures and will never work to support his family again.  Methyl iodide is not a satisfactory replacement for methyl bromide (if any biocide ever is).

Methyl iodide is a chemical that EPA is now evaluating for registration as a replacement for the fumigant methyl bromide, which is being phased out because it causes ozone depletion in the atmosphere. Methyl iodide and methyl bromide are highly volatile fumigant pesticides that are injected into the soil to kill soil-borne pests.  Because of the high application rates and gaseous nature of these chemicals, they drift away from the application site to poison neighbors and farmworkers. Fumigant-intensive crops include tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, tobacco, melons, potatoes and other root crops.  FLOC workers are involved with such crops, and we all eat them.


Methyl iodide is even more hazardous to human health than methyl bromide. Cancer researchers have used methyl iodide in laboratories to induce cancer. California lists it as a carcinogen under Proposition 65. EPA found that methyl iodide caused thyroid tumors, and evidence linked to metabolic disorders and immune function, respiratory tract lesions, neurological effects, and miscarriages.


“This chemical represents the antithesis of modern biologically based farming,” remarked Pesticide Action Network's Dr. Susan Kegley, a senior staff scientist. “We know so much more now about soil pests, plant pathology and plant breeding than we did when fumigants were first introduced in the 1920s. EPA should be helping farmers move into the future by expanding the use of new integrated pest management techniques, not by replacing one hazardous chemical with another.” Kegley points out that fumigation is an inherently risky technology that endangers farm workers, contaminates groundwater, and is a drift hazard to schools and communities surrounding the fields.


EPA is taking public comments on the registration of methyl iodide through February 21, 2006. PAN is requesting the public to get involved in expressing opposition to the registration.


We are asking FLOC supporters to act on this issue.


The Pesticide Action Network, a FLOC ally, is organizing a campaign to stop the registration of methyl iodide, and we are joining this campaign.  See "Why the EPA Should Not Register Methyl Iodide” at


We are asking FLOC supporters to contact the EPA to oppose the registration of methyl iodide.  See the EPA health Risk Assessment Report at


You can act to send a message to the EPA at


Please help us stop methyl iodide.


Thanks for your support,


Ken Barger

FLOC Communications




Sample Letter:


Dear Mr. Jim Jones ( FAX 703-305-4646

Docket #EPA-HQ-OPP-2005-0252-0002, EPA Public Docket,


We are strongly opposed to the to the registeration of methyl iodide for agricultural use. As you know from your health risk assessment, methyl iodide is a threat to air and water supplies and linked to a variety of illnesses and disease, including cancer, developmental toxicity and neurological problems. Rural communities have repeatedly been poisoned by existing fumigants -- it is time to move to much safer methods of pest control, not backwards to a chemical that is even more toxic.


While we appreciate your efforts to identify replacements for methyl bromide and support the complete phase out of that chemical in accordance with the Montreal Protocol, we are opposed to the introduction of methyl iodide. Methyl iodide is NOT a satisfactory substitute.


We call on the EPA to focus resources on non-chemical alternatives to methyl bromide and to work with USDA to provide funding for our farmers to transition towards least-toxic methods of growing food and fiber. Your responsibility for protecting public health is best fulfilled by refusing to register methyl iodide. We call on you to do so.


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