Strawberries and pesticides

I’m growing my own strawberries this year, but this news on poison pesticides from California really got my attention anyway. This is just insane, why would you intentionally spray fruit with a chemical that scientists use to CAUSE cancer in lab rats??

Via La Vida Locavore:
“Until now, methyl bromide has been used widely in growing strawberries. However, as methyl bromide depletes the ozone layer worse than the CFCs we got rid of years ago, it’s being phased out internationally. And growers are looking for a replacement. A cancer-causing replacement.
The proposed replacement for methyl bromide is methyl iodide. Chemists use methyl iodide to induce cancer in lab animals. Under Bush, the EPA gave the OK to methyl iodide, but California (producer of nearly 9 out of 10 strawberries in the U.S.) has held up allowing it thus far. They are expected to announce a decision on it soon. “

Check out the rest of her post for details on what to do about this (and she’ll be writing a follow up later).


5 thoughts on “Strawberries and pesticides

  1. Neither methyl bromide nor methyl iodide are “sprayed” on strawberries. Both are fumigants injected into the bare soil before there are any plants in the field.

  2. No, I agree with Lorigami. That doesn’t make me feel any better either. Pesticide and fumigant are just fancy words for poison. They’re still applying known poisons where food grows. And these are poisonous substances proven to be toxic to humans, not just the pests they’re intended to kill.

    Some of my concerns are:

    1) How long do these fumigated fields lay fallow before planting? From reading on-line, it appears California has some of the stiffest rules, but CA allows planting in a field anywhere from 3 days to 14 days after fumigation, depending on type of application.

    2) What level of these toxic substances are still found in the soil which the plants will be drawing their nutrients from? California’s guidelines don’t measure the soil level after fumigation, only the air level above the field. I quote, “the methyl bromide air-concentration underneath the tarpaulin must test less than five parts per million before planting begins.”

    3) Since these toxins are applied to the soil, to what extent do they leach into the ground water?

    If you haven’t read enough from various resources already, there’s some good information on-line. For instance, at, the Pan North America site, there is info about alternatives to fumigants. And (CA Department of Pesticide Regulation) describes the different methods of fumigation, etc., etc.

    I’ll never buy anything but organic strawberries again for my personal consumption. And I’ll rarely eat non-organic strawberries. I’d say “never” for eating, too. But it’s probably impractical, considering everyone who feeds me doesn’t go the organic route. So, that might be difficult to do.

    Now, anyone know where can I find chocolate dipped organic strawberries locally?

  3. Hey Farmer Horace

    Fresh strawberries ARE REGULARILY fumigated with the likes of methyl bromide for insect and pest control on products to be exported, and products being imported! – maybe you would like to do a little “further research”


  4. Hey Cowboss,

    The fumigation of imports and exports is a necessary procedure and doesn’t harm consumers in any way. Methyl bromide is a gas. It is filtered out of the air after fumigation and is not absorbed by any plants or grains.

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