What happens now that the maker of methyl iodide has removed its product from markets in California and the United States?
ArystaLifeScience Inc.’s confirmation on March 20 that it had suspended the sale of the fumigant methyl iodide in the United States due to lack of “economic viability” represents a victory for the health and safety of the public, workers, and the environment. Scientists, environmental and worker advocates, elected officials, agriculturists, and members of the public at large successfully placed pressure on Arysta to remove methyl iodide from the marketplace. In the end, only six California growers applied methyl iodide in the state.
Because Arysta has voluntarily removed its product, it can resume the sale of methyl iodide in the U.S. where only EPA approval is required for product use. However, in California, the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) would be required to conduct another approval process, including a public comment period, if the company decides to renew sales of methyl iodide.
It is important to note that the lawsuit filed early last year against DPR on behalf of workers and rural communities on the basis that scientific evidence was ignored and that emergency regulations were improperly applied, remains unresolved. Though a decision was expected earlier this year, Arysta requested a new hearing in order to share product updates it believes will affect the final decision, which is now expected by May 1, 2012.
With the required phase-out of the soil fumigant methyl bromide in 2014, the agriculture industry is still in need of an alternative product or farming process. I remain committed to continue my work with all stakeholders to find a balanced solution that protects the health of the public and environment, as well as provides the agricultural industry with the necessary tools it needs to flourish.
Last month the federal Supreme Court held three days of testimony on federal healthcare reform. What will happen in California if portions of the federal law or the entire statute are struck down?
The three days of testimony held by the United States Supreme Court on federal healthcare reform were truly unprecedented and, this June, California and the nation will find out the fate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has already helped millions of Californians to obtain access to drugs and preventive services with no cost sharing; extend coverage to their adult children; and protect children from preexisting condition exclusions.
The Supreme Court hearings primarily focused on the constitutionality of the individual mandate and the Medicaid Expansion provisions in the ACA.
I am confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the ACA. California is moving forward to implement the provisions of the Act as quickly and thoughtfully as possible. As I have indicated, some of the provisions of the ACA have already taken effect. For example, more than 12 million Californians no longer have a lifetime limit on their health insurance policy coverage; more than 6.1 million Californians have had their healthcare coverage improved to include the coverage of preventive care without cost-sharing; more than 355,000 young adults under age 26 can remain on their parents' health insurance coverage; and more than 319,000 California seniors saved $170 million in prescription drug costs.
Should some or the entire ACA be declared unconstitutional, the state will assess the court’s decision and determine how we can move forward to achieve the objectives of the ACA. California is committed to building on our current efforts to create a strong foundation for healthcare reform in California.