Daily News Archive
Again for Limits on the Ozone-Depleting Methyl Bromide
(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2004)
The U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) announced on Wednesday that the
world should crack down on the use of the pesticide methyl bromide which
is damaging the ozone layer.
In an effort to highlight the continued destruction of the ozone layer,
in 1994 UNEP declared September 16 “International Day for the
Preservation of the Ozone Layer.” The UN organization is also
distributing a new
cartoon to teach children and adults about the ozone layer through
a character called Ozzy Ozone. Despite such efforts, politics and economics
continue to rule over the best intentions of conservations.
The Bush administration has lobbied hard for continued American use
of the ozone depleting pesticide methyl bromide, in spite of the availability
of less harmful alternatives. In March 2004, the Bush Administration
won exemptions from the Montreal Protocol treaty totaling 35% of its
1991 baseline level, or 8,942 metric tons, and violated the original
agreement of the Montreal Protocol, which allowed exemptions of no more
than 30 percent. The move made a mockery of the historic 1987 agreement,
where industrialized countries agreed to phase out all uses of methyl
bromide by 2005 with interim cutbacks of 70 percent by 2003.
Klaus Töpfer, executive director of the UNEP, said in a statement
that there were "significant knowledge gaps" on the worldwide
usage of methyl bromide and is urging countries to back a global survey,
being carried out for UNEP’s Ozone Secretariat, so that governments
can be better informed on the precise quantities of the chemical being
Töpfer is calling on nations to "redouble efforts to assess
the quantities being used to kill pests on shipments of rice, maize,
nuts and other big commodity export crops," according to a Reuters
UK article. But there are “lingering loopholes for methyl
bromide,” said UNEP, such as animal fodder, cut flowers, hides
and consignments in wooden pallets, which are still exempted from the
international phase out. Some experts estimate that as much as a fifth
of worldwide usage is excluded from controls, said UNEP.
TAKE ACTION: Use the cartoon to teach children
and others about the damage to the ozone layer. Write President
Bush in the White House and insist that the U.S. comply with the
Montreal Protocol and begin implementing alternatives. For more information,
see the Greenpeace
Ozone Layer Campaign.