To replace the toxic, ozone-depleting pesticide methyl bromide — a favorite of stubborn U.S. berry growers — the U.S. EPA is reportedly set to soon approve an alternative that doesn’t deplete ozone but is “one of the more toxic chemicals used in manufacturing” according to opponents, including six Nobel Prize-winning chemists. Even though the replacement pesticide, methyl iodide, is injected into soils and not applied directly to crops, health advocates, including 54 scientists and physicians who wrote a letter to EPA head Stephen Johnson about their concerns, worry about “pregnant women and the unborn fetus, children, the elderly, farmworkers, and other people living near application sites” who could be at risk from exposure to the pesticide. California, which is doing its own review of the chemical, classifies it as a carcinogen. “It’s extremely toxic,” said Glenn Brank of California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation. “We are concerned about whether or not this can be used safely.” Studies have shown that chronic exposure to methyl iodide can harm the central nervous system, lungs, skin, and kidneys. But just think of the berries!

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