California set to ok soil-sterilizing pesticide

From the really-really-dumb idea department: California;s Department of Pesticide Regulation has proposed allowing the use of methyl iodide -- a chemical so toxic that even chemists are reluctant to handle it.

"This is one of the most egregious pesticides out there," said Sarah Aird, the state field organizer for Californians for Pesticide Reform, a coalition of watchdog groups opposed to the use of potentially harmful chemicals. "It is really, really toxic. It is actually used in the laboratory to induce cancer cells."

Methyl iodide was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2007 for use as a fumigant over the protests of more than two dozen California legislators and 54 scientists, including five Nobel laureates, who signed a letter opposing registration of the chemical.

What makes this such a stunningly bad idea is not just the notion of using toxic chemicals to grow food, with the obvious health risks that entails, but that this stuff is purposefully used to sterilize soil. But that would mean destroying the beneficial microorganisms that make soil fertile. Of course, that means you'll need more fertilizer -- conveniently supplied, no doubt, by the same company that sold the methyl iodide.

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