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US (CA): Pesticide withdrawal will have little effect on growers
The decision by the maker of a controversial pesticide to withdraw its product from California will have little short term effects on the state's strawberry growers. But the effects on the availability of viable tools to help the strawberry industry in the future is yet to be determined.
Arysta LifeScience deciced this week to halt sales of its Midas product in the United States. Critics had claimed the methyl iodide compound had too many health risks associated with it. Arysta said the decision to halt sales in the US was an economic one.
The California Strawberry Commission (CSC) stated it was not surprised the company decided to pull the product; especially given its extremely low implementation. According to the Commission, the pesticide was only used once in 2011 by a small strawberry farmer in a remotely located test patch.
The effect on strawberry growers will be minimal right now, but Carolyn O'Donnell, communications director for the CSC, said it's ultimately one less resource growers will have.
"Because it was hardly used, there's not much of an effect in the short term," she said, "but in the long term, it's the loss of another tool."
Mark Murai, president of a the CSC, reiterated the need for more tools to combat pests.
"We are concerned by the larger implications of this decision," he said, "it underscores the ongoing and critical need for farmers to have a range of effective tools for protecting plants from pests and diseases, and maintain healthy soils. Healthy soils are crucial to food production in California, as well as the rest of the world."
To that end, earlier this month, the Commission announced a $500,000 partnership with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to research fumigant pesticide alternatives. But while the state's growers look for new tools, it's still uncertain when those tools will arrive. So while the elimination of a little-used option has little effect now, it's not clear how that will pan out going forward.
"It's not clear how many other tools are on the horizon," said O'Donnell, "so it remains to be seen what the long term effects of this decision will be."
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