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Environmental Advocates Call For Phasing Out Strawberry Pesticides

Apr 26, 2013

Credit Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

Some environmentalists say hazardous strawberry pesticides should be banned in California by 2020. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, strawberry growers say finding an alternative to fumigants is difficult.

On the steps of the Capitol, farm workers, environmentalists and health leaders called on the state to phase out soil fumigants used most heavily in strawberry production. They say fumigants have a wide range of health effects, are highly volatile, and drift from where they are applied. Martha Arguello is with Physicians for Social Responsibility.

“Acute poisoning can cause eye irritation sore throats headaches vomiting, breathing difficulties, aggravated asthma and neurological effects such as convulsions dizziness and tremors,” says Arguello.

But at a legislative oversight hearing on the issue, strawberry grower Rod Koda says alternatives to fumigants are expensive.

“Fumigation is ranging anywhere between $2,000 and $4,000, some of the alternatives are ranging between $10,000 and $17,000 per acre,” says Koda.

Environmentalists say more resources are needed to help growers make the switch to greener technologies.