Pesticide Action Network Updates Service (PANUPS)
October 2, 1998
A coalition of non-governmental organizations is calling for action to stop U.S. legislation that (1) pushes back the U.S. ban of methyl bromide from 2001 to 2005, and (2) allows producers to continue exporting methyl bromide after the ban is in place. The U.S. Congress is scheduled to vote on the bill in the next few days; the coalition asks those concerned to call Vice President Al Gore and urge him to veto the bill. The coalition includes the Pesticide Action Network North America, Friends of the Earth, Ozone Action and Environmental Working Group.
The delay of the methyl bromide ban was added earlier this week to an agricultural bill that had already been approved by both the House and the Senate. If the revised bill is approved, it could be sent to the President for signature by the weekend.
Methyl bromide is a highly toxic, ozone depleting pesticide used as a soil fumigant to control pests on some crops, including strawberries and tomatoes. Dangerous levels of the toxic gas from fumigated fields have been documented near schools and residential neighborhoods in areas where the pesticide is used.
Methyl bromide destroys the ozone layer at a very rapid rate. Scientists report that the ozone layer will reach its peak level of destruction in the next 10 years. An extension of methyl bromide use in the US &endash; which uses more methyl bromide than any other country &endash; will cause tremendous damage during this critical time. Ozone depletion contributes to increased UV radiation, that causes skin cancer, eye cataracts and weakening of the immune system.
In the United States, methyl bromide producers and users have worked to delay the 2001 ban since it was established under the U.S. Clean Air Act in 1993, and are doubling their efforts as the date nears. Alternatives have been documented for almost all uses of methyl bromide. Under the international Montreal Protocol Agreement, all industrialized countries will phase out methyl bromide by 2005 with interim reductions. The proposed U.S. legislation brings the U.S. into alignment with this slower schedule at a time when many other industrialized countries are speeding up their phaseout schedules.
Action: Please call Vice President Al Gore as soon as possible at (202) 456-2326, and ask him to veto the agricultural appropriations bill now being considered by Congress that would roll back the 2001 ban of the toxic pesticide methyl bromide.
Source/contact: Pesticide Action Network North America