A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives
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U.S. requests methyl bromide exemption again, Seattle protests new head of EPA Region 10; Indonesian farmers prosecuted for saving their seeds while Maine farmers celebrate community seed saving, and more…
November 02, 2006
U.S. seeks methyl bromide exemption under Montreal Protocol: Once again, t he U.S. has asked for the highest exemptions for the largest methyl bromide use under the phaseout schedule of the Montreal Protocol, the international treaty to slow and halt the depletion of the earth’s stratospheric ozone layer. Methyl bromide is a fumigant pesticide that also depletes the ozone layer. The UN Environment Program hosts a meeting of the parties to the treaty this week in India. The U.S. request comes after failing to meet the Jan. 2005 deadline for eliminating methyl bromide use in industrialized nations. Although most countries are on schedule for reducing methyl bromide production and consumption, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner told the Environmental New Service, “This does not mean that the ozone crisis is over. This year’s Antarctic ozone hole was the largest on record, while several key CFC replacements are contributing to global warming…. Governments need to reduce and shut down the remaining sources of ozone-depleting chemicals….” See PAN’s Ozone Outlaw article to learn what happened at the last meeting in Dec. 2005.
Protestors greet EPA Region 10 Administrator Elin Miller: Public health and environmental advocates from Oregon, Idaho and Washington greeted the newly appointed EPA Region 10 administrator with anger when she arrived for her first day on the job. Elin Miller recently headed the North American division of Arysta, a pesticide manufacturer that is working to secure EPA registration of the carcinogenic methyl iodide as a replacement for the fumigant methyl bromide. Miller also worked for Dow Chemical. Those protesting Miller’s appointment are now also concerned about the shutting down of the Region 10 office of civil rights and environmental justice. The office was responsible for cleanup of industrial sites in poor neighborhoods where residents are concerned about toxic chemical exposure. The predominately Latino residents who demonstrated are very worried that Superfund sites and other contaminated neighborhoods will be ignored. The Seattle Post Intelligencer has the story.
Indonesian farmers prosecuted for breeding own seeds: An Indonesian seed marketing company filed legal charges against farmers for breeding their own seeds instead of purchasing them from the company. The cases did not involve genetically modified seeds or seed multinationals. To researchers investigating the case, the seed company seemed to be warning the farmers: “Do not be too creative, do not breed your own seed, or you will be prosecuted.” Several farmers were prosecuted for breeding their own corn seed in Nganjuk and Kediri Regencies, East Java. Tukirin, a corn grower in Nganjuk Regency, was punished with a suspended prison sentence and prohibited from planting his own corn seeds for one year. Read the whole story at Asian Farmers.org.
New Zealand widows win campaign for methyl bromide investigation: Four widows successfully campaigned to have the government open an investigation into the possibility that methyl bromide played a part in the illness and deaths that plagued their late husbands and other cargo workers at Port Nelson, NZ. The workers became exposed while working in the cargo holds fumigated by methyl bromide. The women are part of a group called C ampaigners Against Toxic Sprays and they are working for a end to commodity fumigation with the dangerous and ozone-depleting chemical. Read more.
U.S. methyl bromide maker Albemarle turns to Internet auction: Albemarle is selling the highly toxic methyl bromide through Internet auction. The sale is targeted toward U.S. farmers and for those who want to continue to use methyl bromide for foreign shipping purposes. Albemarle’s global business director, Ed Tatum, is quoted in their press release: “We are encouraged by the world’s continued recognition of the safety and efficacy of methyl bromide as a fumigant for a diverse set of vital agricultural needs.” Under the Clean Air Act and Montreal Protocol, U.S. production, use and import of methyl bromide was to have been phased out, and continues except for certain critical use exemptions.
Oregon unveils new pesticide use reporting program: Oregon has become has joined the handful of states to require businesses, state and local government agencies, or people using pesticides in a public place to report all pesticide use and make the data available to the public. A law estabilishing this reporting system was passed in 1999, and the new Oregon Pesticide Use Reporting System (PURS) will be ready in January of 2007. According to the law, even a “roach motel” requires reporting, and the people filing reports are able to remain anonymous. The Medford News reports, “Examples of pesticide users would be those in agriculture, forestry, government agencies, utility companies, pest control companies, and landlords or managers of hotels, motels, restaurants and other business properties.” California pioneered such reporting, and its data is available on the PAN Pesticides Database.
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association conference: This week farmers from all over Maine and the Northeast will gather at the Farmer to Farmer conference in Bar Harbor, Maine. Keynote speaker will be Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seeds in Philomath, Oregon, a pioneer in breeding and selecting organic and open-pollinated varieties specialized for ecological production. Fifteen sessions on diverse agronomic, livestock and farm management topics are planned. Find out more at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.
PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don’t always get coverage by the mainstream media. It’s produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide.
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