Farm Press Blog

Plenty of blame to go around for Midas’ demise

RSS
  • Out of the smoking crater left from Midas' registration procss and demise, all future pesticide registrations and re-registrations must climb. When we needed leadership from the company we got none. When agriculture should have provided the same, we turned our backs. Either sector should have made a full assessment and acted in the long–term best interest of California agriculture. Shame on all of us.

The recent announcement from Arysta LifeScience that it was immediately suspending sales of the fumigant Midas (methyl iodide) in the U.S. was really no surprise.

It ends one of the most polarizing sagas in the long history of California’s go-it-alone pesticide registration process. Pitting the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, Arysta, politicians, growers, commodity groups and radical environmentalists against each other resulted in a no-win for all.

Tim Johnson, president of the California Rice Commission, offered insight into the tale in a recent blog entitled: Shame on Arysta … Shame on Us.

Success in U.S. agriculture is hard earned. It’s an even greater achievement in California. The realities of our constrained resources, highly populated state and rigorous public dialogue make farming here — well, challenging.

Certainly California farmers need new crop protection materials. We see it firsthand in our industry with growers in other states able to use two to three times the number of registered pesticides we have in California.

However we also need to be realists. The science and regulatory process aside, the registration of methyl iodide in California was a mistake from a political and public perspective. The registrant understandably wanted to generate sales and meet the need created by the ill–advised phase-out of methyl bromide. They pushed too hard. Industry desperately needed new fumigants — we were co-opted.

The result is a smoking crater. Out of this crater all future pesticide registrations and re-registrations must climb.

When we needed leadership from the company we got none. When agriculture should have provided the same, we turned our backs.  Either sector should have made a full assessment and acted in the long–term best interest of California agriculture.

Shame on all of us.

After Arystra spent millions of dollars and DPR was bombarded with thousands of protest letters, Midas was registered last year with some of the most draconian application mandates imaginable, no doubt a major reason there were only six commercial applications of Midas in California on only 15 acres total.

Arysta officials, of course, ballyhooed methyl iodide’s safety record of 17,000 acres of use across the Southeast “without a single safety incident.” That is equivalent to the miniscule California use.

It was clearly an economic decision to pull Midas from the U.S. market. It was DOA from the beginning of the EPA’s initial registration in 2007 due to the controversy that surrounded it.

Midas was heralded as a substitute for methyl bromide. Many proposed replacements before it carried the same billing without commercial success.

The California Strawberry Commission has poured more than $12 million into research looking at alternatives to methyl bromide — also without significant success.

DPR recently announced it will pump $500,000 into a three-year project focusing on growing strawberries in peat, tree bark or other non-soil substances that are disease-free.

That will result in headlines — but doubtful commercial adaptability.

I don’t know if Midas was our last hope for a commercially viable methyl bromide alternative, but it certainly was a textbook example of how not to register a new pesticide in California and the U.S.

Discuss this Blog Entry 2

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 18, 2012

What do you expect Arysta or any registrant to do with a controversial registration? Here is a company that spent over 14 years developing this product identified by University of California researchers, testing it's performance in various formulations, meeting all the regulatory requirements and then some including extra requirements that were beyond excessive (e.g., extended buffer zones, special tarp, and limitations on rates) and still, did not get cooperative support from a unified Ag sector in the state of California. Arysta even participate in a Cal DPR Ag forum where the Ag community was not unified behind this product. Sectors that do not use fumigation were not willing to stand with the rest of the community. Arysta did more than its share of bringing this product to the U.S. with the product being registered for more than a year in California. It still is marketing the product worldwide and it still holds the U.S. registration. If any shame should be placed, it should be on the sectors that were not united with the rest of Cal Ag in registering a much needed, non-ozone depleting soil fumigant to replace methyl bromide.

patel82 (not verified)
on May 6, 2012

After reading this it is a shame so much money spent .
No wonder China and India have great products for they farmers.

Post new comment
or to use your Western Farm Press ID
What's Farm Press Blog?

The Farm Press Daily Blog

Connect With Us

Blog Archive
Continuing Education Courses
New Course
California is becoming the first state in the nation to invoke regulations to reduce Volatile...
New Course
Ant control is an important element of harvesting a high quality almond crop. It starts with...
This accredited CE course focuses on choosing the correct variety alfalfa based on a number of...

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×