How will the recent news about the halt of methyl iodide sales affect South Santa Cruz County?
I have personally spent much time reflecting on the future of pesticide use in the Pájaro Valley. As has been well documented of late, the years-long battle over the potentially dangerous use of methyl iodide has come to a close as Arysta LifeScience has decided to halt all sales of its patent product, methyl iodide, in California and the United States.
Methyl iodide was adopted as the replacement pesticide to methyl bromide, which was banned as a result of the Montreal Treaty and is set to be phased out completely by 2015. Whereas methyl bromide has been cited as destructive to the ozone layer, opponents of methyl iodide claim its chemical toxicity can alter human DNA and taint groundwater, potentially causing cancer to those exposed.
The Board of Supervisors, of which I am a member, unanimously passed a resolution urging Gov. Jerry Brown to reassess the state’s approval of methyl iodide. Additionally, I have personally stated my opposition to methyl iodide to the farmer community who, to their great credit, refrained from using the legally sanctioned substance until further review.
Methyl iodide is now off the market and no longer an option. We must now move beyond conversations of methyl iodide and consider what alternatives to methyl bromide will be available to us come 2015. Whereas many, including myself, would love to see the proliferation of organic farms and crop-rotating practices, the commercial viability of doing so on a scale comparable to conventional methods has yet to be proven. This would, of course, result in a substantial drop in regional profitability—a concern to many, including myself.
Members of the assembly and senate have urged Gov. Jerry Brown to form a working group to develop alternatives that will give farmers the tools they need to protect crops while ensuring the health of rural communities and farm workers.
I am completely supportive of these efforts and hope to spawn local dialogues between interested parties so as to ensure that concerns for the health of local residents as well as the commercial viability of conventional farming are both taken under consideration. Ideally, a new pesticide that is much more friendly to our environment and workers will emerge. But at this given moment the best that we can do is to make sure that locals are fully informed and that we stay abreast of any and all new developments as this issue is of critical importance to not only the Pájaro Valley but the Monterey Bay Area as a whole.
What is the status of your redwood tree planting project?
With the help of the Estrada family, Bill Vaughan, Big Creek Lumber and Cal Poly Swanton Pacific, we have been able to plant more than 1,000 native redwood trees this month alone. These 1,000 trees are in addition to the thousands of trees and shrubs already planted by Watsonville Wetlands Watch, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County and local cities and organizations across the county. Local youth from the Boy Scouts and Community Restoration have seen up close and personal the exact process and necessities of planting trees into the ground firmly and in places where water and adequate sunlight is available. Such plantings lead to broader conversations of ecosystems and relationships between humans and nature.
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