Not only are farmworkers and consumers of the fruit at potential risk for serious health issues, but so might be children attending schools and families living in homes near strawberry fields. Methyl Iodide is known to be a carcinogen and, when tested in labs, caused miscarriages in lab animals. The California Department of Pesticide Regulations (CDPR) has placed more stringent restrictions on the use of Methyl Iodide than other state, surpassing EPA requirements, but there were still several groups and community members protesting its implementation, with 50,000 comments received by CDPR stating concerns.
Current efforts to stop the approval of Methyl Iodide have primarily been focused on the Pajaro Valley, where strawberries have been grown for many years, and where the majority of strawberries are grown in the Monterey Bay area. The Pajaro Valley Unified School District has made efforts to inform the community about the dangers of Methyl Iodide, and others have spoken with the County of Monterey, but little attention seems to have been paid to Salinas residents' concerns over the new pesticide.
Most people may not fully be aware of the potential risks of pesticides. Carla, one of the Salinas residents I informally polled on the issue, told me that she eats strawberries because of the health benefits, and didn’t realize that they could potentially harm her health. Whether or not strict regulation of the pesticide's use will be enough to reduce the risk of carcinogens, Salinas residents and farmworkers should continue to inform themselves of the dangers that can potentially arise from working with or consuming strawberries.