California penalizes strawberry grower for illegal pesticide use

06/21/2013 08:14:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has ordered a Watsonville strawberry grower to destroy 10 acres of crop and fined him $15,000 for illegal pesticide use.

The action came after the department's monitoring program detected methomyl, an insecticide, on strawberries for sale in Los Angeles County in May, according to a news release.

Although the product is registered for use in agriculture, it is not labeled for strawberries.

A subsequent inspection by Santa Cruz County agriculture commissioner found the pesticide on the crop and equipment at V.L. Farms.

The farm is owned by Lorenzo Lopez of Watsonville, according to the settlement agreement.

The state detected 1.44 parts per million of the restricted-use material on berries found at retail outlets.

As a result, the department ordered 10 acres on which the pesticide was used destroyed.

The berries were valued at about $20,000.

The state also ordered 1,093 cartons of strawberries removed from distributors and retail outlets.

V.L. Farms was cited for using a pesticide against the label, using a restricted pesticide without a written permit from the county ag commissioner, and unlawful packing, shipping or selling of produce with a pesticide that exceeds permitted levels.

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