SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Despite long-standing concerns about pesticide exposure, a new report suggests California strawberry growers will have to keep using a controversial class of fumigants to keep the state's $2.3 billion strawberry industry strong.
Methyl bromide was was phased out by international treaty because it depletes the Earth's protective ozone layer. But it is still used in very limited quantities in California, which produces 88 percent of the nation's strawberries.
A report released by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation on Tuesday suggests growers should try to phase out using methyl bromide and its numerous replacements, but acknowledges the industry will need to keep using fumigants for years to keep their prices competitive.
The report says berry growers need more economic support to transition to non-fumigant options, including grants or crop insurance.
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