In a major victory for S.B.’s Environmental Defense Center, California Rural Legal Assistance Inc., and the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled last week that California strawberry growers must limit their use of the poisonous soil fumigant methyl bromide. Effective against hard-to-kill strawberry nematodes, the insecticide also damages the human nervous system and reproductive health. Because it also depletes the ozone layer, signatories to the 1987 Montreal Protocol – including the U.S. – pledged to phase it out entirely. But the U.S. has made repeated exceptions for agricultural uses where no evident alternative exists. The new standard requires agricultural corporations statewide to reduce farm workers’ and children’s exposure to the fumigant by 800 and 900 percent respectively within a year.

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