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Campaign Launched to Remove Methyl Bromide-Treated Food from Supermarkets
(Beyond Pesticides, November 24, 2004)
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is launching a campaign to convince United States supermarkets to stop selling food grown or treated with the deadly chemical methyl bromide, including tomatoes, strawberries and nuts. EIA, an independent, international non-profit organization, is investigating the supply chains for major supermarkets and will be campaigning to have products produced with methyl bromide removed from shelves across the nation.

Methyl bromide is harmful to the global environment as well as to human health. It is a potent contributor to the destruction of the ozone layer. Damage to the ozone layer results in increased rates of skin cancer and cataracts around the world, particularly among children.

Direct exposure to this toxic chemical can result in headaches, nausea, chest and abdominal pain, respiratory failure, and even death. Many strawberry and tomato fields treated with methyl bromide are located so near as to endanger homes, schools, and churches. The pesticide has also been identified as a significant source of occupational illness, injuring the farm workers who grow these crops. In addition to the acute effects of exposure, a recent United States study of over 55,000 male pesticide applicators found that methyl bromide users had a statistically greater risk of developing prostate cancer, and those who had longer exposure to the chemical were at higher risk.

This week the global community has gathered in Prague, Czech Republic, to determine how best to end the use of methyl bromide. Pursuant to the Montreal Protocol, the international treaty designed to save the ozone layer, the world’s developed countries are supposed to complete phase out of methyl bromide use by 2005; however, some countries have dragged their feet on this phase out. The United States, the largest user of methyl bromide in the world, is actually seeking to increase its use of methyl bromide in the years to come.

EIA President Allan Thornton stated, “There are viable alternatives to the use of methyl bromide. Supermarket chains such as Safeway, Whole Foods, Albertson’s, Kroger and Wal-Mart need to ensure that their shelves are free of produce grown or treated with this deadly chemical. We will be writing to major supermarkets to ask them to stop supporting the continued use of methyl bromide.”

For more information regarding EIA’s campaign, contact R. Juge Gregg, Senior Campaigner at (202) 483-6621 or jugegregg@eia-international.org.

TAKE ACTION: Ensure your food is not treated with methyl bromide by buying organic. Write President Bush in the White House and insist that the U.S. comply with the Montreal Protocol and begin implementing alternatives.