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U.S. Looking for Exemption from International Pesticide Ban (2/3/04)
(Beyond Pesticides, February 3, 2004)
An upcoming international meeting that will address various issues surrounding the phase-out of the pesticide methyl bromide will also deal with the U.S.’s proposed exemptions to the ban. This Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol will be held March 24-26, 2004 in Montreal, Canada.

Methyl bromide, an extremely toxic chemical used in agriculture worldwide, has alarming ozone-depleting capabilities. It is also linked with sterility and cancer. The international treaty known as the Montreal Protocol initiated a world phase-out of this chemical in 1988 in order to stop the destruction of the ozone layer, and the U.S. incorporated the phase-out into the Clean Air Act in 1990.

Worldwide efforts have resulted in a drastic cut in methyl bromide use, with the complete phase-out scheduled for 2005. However, the U.S. has continually attempted to undercut the treaty in order to continue use of this threatening pesticide. In February 2003, the Bush administration requested exemptions totaling 39 percent of the baseline production level, even though the Montreal protocol allows exemptions of no more than 30 percent, thereby violating the treaty.

The Meeting of Parties this March will specifically address the following issues, on which agreement has thus far been eluded, according to the Environmental Protection Agency:

  • Nominations for Critical Use Exemptions (CUEs)
  • Conditions for granting CUEs
  • Further specific interim reductions of methyl bromide for developing countries
  • Consideration of the Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee’s work procedures regarding the future evaluations of CUE nominations.

On its Methyl Bromide Phase Out Information page, EPA states that it “will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of State to fully support the U.S. Nomination.”

David Doniger, policy director of NRDC's Climate Center, said of the U.S. exemption requests, "This attack on the ozone layer will put more people at risk of cancer. It also punishes the responsible growers who have invested time and money into adopting safer alternatives."

For more information, see Beyond Pesticides February 11 2003 Daily News Bush Administration Pushing For Methyl Bromide Exemption From Montreal Protocol. In addition, the Agricultural Resources Center (ARC) provides a summary of the methyl bromide phase-out.