Toxic Strawberries: What’s the big deal?

For many years, strawberry growers have been dousing your strawberries with methyl bromide, a toxic fumigant that has caused many health problems for farm workers, pregnant women, and others who live near strawberry fields. It was used to kill pests in soil for crops.

For years we just let the health problem reports pile up, but eventually scientists discovered that methyl bromide was also destroying the earth’s ozone layer that keeps us virtually from being fried by the sun. The ozone layer protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

The U.S. collaborated with 195 other countries to phase out the use of methyl bromide, and in 1987 agreed to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer.¹  That meant that all 196 countries agreed not to use specific chemicals, including methyl bromide, that deplete the ozone layer. Once victory for planet earth and everyone on it!

However, what did the strawberry growers do? They substituted another toxic fumigant, methyl iodide, to kill pests in the soil. Now farm workers, pregnant women, and people who live near the strawberry fields are suffering from the toxic effects of methyl iodide!

Methyl iodide is listed under California Proposition 65 (1986) as a chemical known by the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity based on evaluative studies performed in the 1970s.²

Methyl iodide is a known carcinogen that can also cause spontaneous miscarriages and contaminate groundwater. Injecting it as a gas into the soil presents unacceptable risks to farm workers, nearby rural communities, pregnant women, and children.

Are you eating strawberries that carry residues from this pesticide? If you are not buying organic or pesticide-free strawberries, chances are that you are at least subjecting yourself or your family to pesticide residues.  Where strawberries are concerned, please only buy organic or grow them yourself.


1.  Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer,

2.  Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65): Chemicals known to the State to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity, February 3, 2012. State of California Environmental Protection Agency Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment,, Feb. 15, 2012.

Methyl Iodide articles:

3.  Estabrook, Berry, “Methyl Iodide: The Cancer-Causing Chemical Behind Your Food”, The Atlantic, 15, 2012.

4. Sept. 24, 2007 Letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency signed by more than 50 scientists, including five Nobel laureates, pleading that methyl iodide not be approved for agricultural use,, Feb. 15, 2012.

5.  “Methyl Iodide (Iodomethane) Hazard Summary Created in April 1992; Revised in January 2000“, Technology Transfer Network Air Toxics Web Site, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,, February 15, 2012.

Methyl Bromide articles:

6. Beamish, Rita, Pesticide That Destroys Ozone OK’d for U.S. Use, Associated Press, November 3, 2006, carried in the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

Reports that the U.S. has a huge stockpile of methyl bromide and will continue using it on certain agricultural crops (tomatoes, strawberries) despite its ban under an international treaty two years earlier.  Still destroys ozone, still harms people and residents of areas where it is used.

7.  Methyl Bromide Technical Fact Sheet, 2000, National Pesticide Information Center web site,, February 15, 2012.

About mary

Mary is a retired digital librarian and is a mother of boy-girl twins. She got her kids cooking early, when all they made was a mess! Today, they are both very proficient in the kitchen and are great cooks! It was a relatively painless process getting to where they are now. She shares her strategies in this website.
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