Monday, January 03, 2005

EPA violates international treaty by allowing massive increase of methyl bromide pesticide use

Outgoing Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Leavitt will release regulations today allowing a 2 million pound increase in 2005 in the use of methyl bromide, an ozone-depleting and cancer-causing farm chemical, in violation of both an international treaty and the Clean Air Act. This new action follows several other decisions by the Bush administration to allow more use of the pesticide. "Catering to a handful of big chemical and agribusiness interests, the Bush administration is actually expanding the use of this dangerous, ozone-destroying chemical," said David Doniger, policy director of the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) Climate Center. "More methyl bromide means more ozone depletion and higher risks of skin cancer, cataracts, and immune diseases for millions of Americans." The EPA exemptions will allow agribusiness interests to use 19.7 million pounds of methyl bromide next year... More than three-quarters of the chemical will be used by two crops -- Florida tomatoes and California strawberries. The rules violate conditions that countries use up the available stockpile of methyl bromide before authorizing new production conditions the Bush administration agreed to in Montreal Protocol talks with 180 countries just last March. The Bush administration's move contrasts sharply with action this week by the European Union, which is dramatically cutting methyl bromide use across the continent, including the tomato- and strawberry-growing regions of Italy, Spain, and other southern European countries.

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