Health/Nutrition/Food Safety, Pests and Diseases, Studies/Reports, Sustainability

US: Potato Pest Treatment Caused Crop Contamination, Officials Say

DangerA pesticide used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to kill a rare potato pest has turned out to have nasty side effects for several eastern Idaho farmers, officials said this week. Methyl bromide, a highly toxic fumigant, was used as part of a treatment plan to eradicate pale cyst nematode, following the discovery of the pest in Bonneville and Bingham counties in 2006. Now, some farmers have found that the pesticide contaminated a number of their crops grown on the treated fields, and also caused severe health issues for some cattle, Idaho Department of Agriculture officials told the Legislature’s budget committee this week. Agriculture officials are asking for $250,000 to conduct research on the problem, as well as dispose of 2,000 tons of contaminated hay in a local landfill. “It is a mess,” Agriculture Director Celia Gould told the committee Monday. “What the research hopes to show is, how do we get (the methyl bromide) out of the soil?” More

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