Dangerous chemical recalled but not in NZ | The Jackal

28 Mar 2012

Dangerous chemical recalled but not in NZ

Last week, Arysta LifeScience made a press statement (PDF) announcing that it was ceasing sales and withdrawing from the U.S. all of its methyl iodide-containing fumigant formulations:

The decision was made as part of an internal review of the fumigant and based on its economic viability in the U.S.

It just so happens that a major court case decision was due out last week concerning the fumigant's classification. The potential for further litigation from the misclassification of methyl iodide is huge, and Arysta LifeScience has clearly gone into damage control in expectation that the ruling will go against them.

On Monday, CropLife reported:

By now, you may have heard that Tokyo, Japan-based Arystra LifeScience Inc. has decided to stop selling its methyl iodide brand Midas in the U.S. Used primarily as a fumigant for strawberries and other fruit crops, methyl iodide simply wasn’t selling well enough in the country to merit its continued sales here. So as I read this, 1 (manufacturers want to make products that sell) + 1 (product wasn’t selling) = 2 (company stops selling product).

Yet when I read about methyl iodide’s exit from the U.S. market, I was surprised to find several comments from agricultural critics claiming it was their opposition that got the product pulled from use. “Today, I’m really happy,” one critic was quoted as saying in the Los Angeles Times. “It feels like someone finally listened to us about something really important.” Reading this, the belief from this individual is 1 (manufacturers want to make products that sell) + 1 (product wasn’t selling) + 1 (critic opposition) = 2 (company stops selling product).

In my book, this is a classic example of fuzzy math. I’m certain if the sales were there, Arystra would still be selling methyl iodide in the U.S. (By the way, the company will continue selling the product outside of the U.S., where its sales are better.)

The regular Monsanto advocate Eric Sfiligoj is an idiot to think Arysta LifeScience has suddenly decided MIDAS is not profitable at the precise time a court ruling is likely to find the fumigant was incorrectly classified. It is too much of a coincidence. There's also little alternative available to methyl iodide based fumigants and MIDAS had cornered the U.S. market, making it highly profitable.

Considering that Arysta LifeScience also requested all existing supplies and tanks to be returned, there is no doubt that they have realized that methyl iodide was misclassified and any further profiteering from selling the highly carcinogenic substance could result in legal claims and compensation. That would assuredly make the product less economically viable.

Let's fix the idiots calculation:

1 (manufacturer knows product is dangerous but sells it anyway to make a profit) + 1 (a court decision is likely to find that methyl iodide was initially misclassified opening Arysta LifeScience up to multiple litigations) = 2 (company makes up an excuse to stop selling product and tries to suppress the court decision).

Arysta LifeScience claims that removing the product renders the case moot.

Yesterday, California Watch reported:

“If the judge dismisses the case,” said Paul Towers of Pesticide Action Network North America, one of 17 plaintiffs in the case, “California will have let a pesticide corporation off the hook and failed to fix our broken regulatory system.”

Of course methyl iodide based products are still being sold here in New Zealand. Politicians and ERMA will do their best to ignore the fact that it’s been removed from U.S. shelves, not because it wasn’t making a profit, but because it’s a highly dangerous carcinogen that was initially misclassified.

Methyl iodide could even be contributing to New Zealand having the highest rate of cancer in the world. Ignorance is bliss I suppose.