FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — The maker of the controversial pesticide methyl iodide, used primarily to fumigate strawberries, has agreed to remove all of its products from the U.S. market and end sales permanently.
The U.S. EPA announced Wednesday that Arysta had requested voluntarily cancellation of all of the company's product registrations, which means that the suspected carcinogen will no longer be used in this country by the end of the year.
The company's decision ends more than five years of legal battles by environmental groups and farmworkers who had fought initial approval of the product during the Bush administration. It comes after an announcement in March that the Japanese company would voluntarily pull methyl iodine from the U.S. market.
Arysta said at the time that the decision was based on the product's lack of economic viability.
"This is the final nail in the coffin," said Greg Loarie of the nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice, which represented a dozen groups in California, Oregon and Florida.
Studies have shown that the fumigant, also known as idomethane, poses acute public health risks because tests on rats and rabbits showed that exposure causes thyroid cancer, miscarriages and damage to the nervous system. Scientists also found it can pollute air and water.