Gov. Pete Wilson on Tuesday signed into law permission for California growers to continue using the powerful soil fumigant methyl bromide through December 1997, despite concerns about the pesticide's safety.
The Republican governor, flanked by legislators representing agricultural districts and top farm lobbyists, said, "There was an urgent and grave need to act on this matter."
A ban on the use of methyl bromide was scheduled to take effect at the end of the month. Wilson's signature on the bill, enacted by a special session of the Legislature called to deal with the issue, extends the use of the compound for 21 months.
The head of the United Farm Workers denounced Wilson's action, saying the chemical threatens the lives of laborers and consumers.