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  • Tuesday, November 29, 2005

    Yet another broken treaty

    From the AP via Common Dreams:

    Other nations watch as the United States keeps permitting wide use of methyl bromide for tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, Christmas trees and other crops, even though the U.S. signed an international treaty banning all but the most critical uses by 2005.

    The chemical depletes the earth's protective ozone layer and can harm the human neurological system, an increasing concern as people settle further into what was once just farm country.

    Methyl bromide's survival demonstrates the difficulty of banishing a powerful pesticide that helps deliver what both farmers and consumers want: abundant, pest-free and affordable produce.

    The Bush administration, at the urging of agriculture and manufacturing interests, is making plans to ensure that methyl bromide remains available at least through 2008 by seeking and winning treaty exemptions. Also, the administration will not commit to an end date.

    ...

    The U.S. signed the Montreal Protocol treaty, committing to phase out methyl bromide by 2005 as part of the effort to protect the earth's ozone layer.

    A provision allows for exemptions to prevent "market disruption." The U.S. has used it to persuade treaty signers to allow U.S. farmers to continue using the chemical.

    That exemption process leaves the U.S. 37 percent shy of the phaseout required by 2005, with at least 10,450 tons of methyl bromide exempted this year. While that compares with about 28,080 tons used in 1991, this year's total is higher than it was two years ago.

    U.S. officials are heading to a Montreal Protocol meeting in Senegal on Dec. 7 to begin negotiations on exemptions for 2007 and are preparing requests for 2008.

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