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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