Calif. strawberry grower fined, told to destroy crop

WATSONVILLE, Calif. - A Central Coast strawberry farmer has agreed to pay a fine and destroy some of his berries after state regulators found he used an illegal pesticide on them.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation announced a settlement agreement with Lorenzo Lopez of Watsonville-based V.L. Farms on Thursday. They say Lopez acknowledged illegally using the insecticide methomyl and has agreed to destroy 10 acres of his 20-acre farm in addition to a $15,000 fine.

Methomyl was once used by California growers to control lygus bugs in strawberries, but DPR stopped allowing its use in 2010.

The agency says it discovered methomyl residue on the strawberries in April during routine produce residue sampling at a food warehouse in Southern California.  DPR says it then traced the berries to Lopez.

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