Daily News Archive
From July 8, 2005

USDA Researches Pesticide Free Commercial Fruit Treatment
(Beyond Pesticides, July 8 2005)
The results of recent United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) research, published in Agricultural Research Magazine, show that a new technology, Controlled Atmosphere/Temperature Treatment System (CATTs), is effective in killing pests of apples, peaches, pears, cherries, and nectarines without the use of pesticides. The technology uses a combination of controlling temperatures and manipulating oxygen and carbon dioxide amounts to create intolerable conditions so pest insects die.

This technology was first considered in the 1930s but has been further expanded by Lisa Nevens, a researcher for USDA, who seeks to use the technology to offer effective pest treatments for organic fruit growers and shippers. Ms. Nevens has been researching the effectiveness of this technology on certain pests for the last ten years. According to Ms. Nevens CATTS is not commercially available yet, but the technology is being tested further for potential use in the United States as well as the Netherlands. This recent study concluded that CATTs is effective for large scale applications. Ms. Nevens is currently working on testing applications CATTs may have for other commodities such as tree fruits, peppers, eggplants, and other produce.

CATTs technology does not harm the quality of the fruit nor leave hazardous chemical residues. The technology offers a cheaper and safer alternative to pesticide fumigation with the toxic chemical methyl bromide.

Methyl bromide and other fumigants have been linked to neurological damage, cancers, as well as other acute health problems. Methyl bromide also severly damages the ozone layer; it is 50 times stronger at depleting the ozone layer than the currently banned chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The EPA has instituted a phase out of methyl bromide products, but industry continues to lobby for use and sale of methyl bromide products under critical use exemptions. Read more about the controversy surrounding the phase out of methyl bromide in Beyond Pesticides Daily News Archive.

TAKE ACTION: Ensure your food is not treated with fumigants by buying organic. Write President Bush in the White House and insist that the U.S. comply with the Montreal Protocol, which requires a ban on methyl bromide and other chemicals that damage the ozone layer. Encourage President Bush to start implimenting alternatives to methyl bromide like CATTs technology.