Daily News Archive
From November 10, 2006                                                                                                        

Montreal Protocol Nations Grant U.S. Methyl Bromide Uses Despite Ban
(Beyond Pesticides, November 10, 2006) The members of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer met in India last week and approved the United States’ request to use methyl bromide despite the treaty’s ban on the chemical for developed countries, which went into effect on January 1, 2006.

At the New Delhi meeting, treaty partners granted the U.S. 5,900 tons for uses deemed critical in 2008 (mostly agricultural in Florida and California), just shy of the Bush administration’s request of 7,100 tons (while global consumption is estimated at 30,000 tons). The exception came despite the treaty’s technical committee’s recommendation of a more substantial reduction of the U.S.’s request, on grounds that other countries have proven that alternative practices and products can successfully replace the chemical. In addition, chemical companies are also allowed to manufacture 5,000 tons of the allotment, despite the U.S. having much larger, existing stockpiles.

Other participating regions, including Latin American and the European Union, strongly oppose the U.S.’s request for exemption, saying such special treatment will not help eliminate world-wide use of the ozone-depleting chemical. This also removes the possibility of the U.S. taking a lead in methyl bromide’s phase-out. Swedish delegate Husamuddin Ahmadzai said the U.S.’s repeated requests are “certainly undermining the spirit of the Montreal Protocol and setting a bad example for other countries.”

In addition to disapproval from other member countries, environmental non-governmental organizations have called for a strengthening of the Montreal Protocol, citing amongst its challenges the continued excessive use of methyl bromide for agricultural, quarantine and pre-shipment purposes. Signatories to the statement include Friends of the Earth-UK, Greenpeace International, and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). Sascha Von Bismarck, of EIA, said, “It’s extremely disappointing that now that the U.S. has finally confirmed its enormous stockpile, it continues to fight tooth and nail to get special treatment in the world to use a gas that will cause increased skin cancer and a host of other environmental effects.”

TAKE ACTION!: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently accepting public comments on the Tolerance Reassessment and Risk Management Decision for Methyl Bromide, and Reregistration Eligibility Decision for Methyl Bromide’s Commodity Uses. Comments must be submitted on or before November 24, 2006. To comment, visit EPA’s Regulations page and search for docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2005-0123.

Also, EPA is in the middle of a Soil Fumigant Assessment, which began in 2004. Methyl bromide is one of the five chemicals being assessed. Although EPA has already conducted its first round of public comments on the assessments, comments on the Revised Risk Assessments, Aternatives/Benefits Analysis, and Risk Management Options are anticipated for early spring 2007, along with stakeholder meetings in areas of high usage.