AP NewsBreak: California unveils nation's strictest rules on pesticide widely used by farmers

IndustrialsAssociated Press

Officials say farmers in California now have to abide by the nation's strictest rules for a widely used pesticide.

Brian Leahy, director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, said Tuesday that the heightened rules will protect farmworkers and people who live near the fields. The pesticide, chloropicrin, is injected into the ground before planting strawberries, tomatoes and almond orchards.

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Officials say hundreds of people exposed to the pesticide have suffered irritated eyes, coughing fits and headaches in recent years.

California's new rule surpasses federal standards and is likely to raise costs for farmers, who will pass it along to consumers.

The state's $2.3 billion strawberry industry may be hardest hit. The California Strawberry Commission's Carolyn O'Donnell said growers will have to spend millions to comply with the new standards.