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From: Californians for Pesticide Reform, INTERNET:email@example.com
To: Patricia Dines, 73652,1202
Date: Wed, Oct 21, 1998, 10:52 AM
Subject: News Release-Delay of Methyl Bromide Ban
For Immediate release
October 20, 1998
Contacts: Kristin Schafer, Pesticide Action Network (415) 981-6205 x
Bill Walker, Environmental Working Group (415)
Jeanne Merrill, Pesticide Watch (415) 292-1489
CA Environmental Groups Outraged by
Delay of Methyl Bromide Ban
Federal Budget Agreement Poisons Communities, Destroys Ozone Layer
SAN FRANCISCO - Bowing to pressure from special interests, President
Clinton and Congress have agreed to delay the scheduled phaseout of the
toxic and ozone depleting pesticide methyl bromide. Environmentalists and
community groups in California call the move an irresponsible sellout to
the agrichemical industry that endangers public health and the environment.
"In approving this legislation, Congress and the President are saying they
don't care about the California communities and farmworkers who continue to
be poisoned by this dangerous pesticide," said Kristin Schafer, Program
Coordinator with the Pesticide Action Network. "The delay also means
continued destruction of the ozone layer just when it is most vulnerable.
This means more skin cancer, cataracts and weakened immune systems for
people around the world - including Californians."
The language delaying the methyl bromide ban, which had been scheduled for
January 2001 under the Clean Air Act, was introduced by Rep. Vic Fazio
(D-CA) as a last-minute rider to the agricultural appropriations bill. The
original bill was vetoed by the President on October 8, then became part of
the omnibus appropriations bill to be officially approved by Congress
Fazio's rider delays the methyl bromide ban until 2005. The amendment also
includes language which will allow the United States to continue using
methyl bromide under special exemption "loopholes" after the ban takes
effect. Methyl bromide producers in the United States will also be allowed
to continue manufacturing and exporting methyl bromide to developing
countries up to and after the ban.
"This is the sort of sellout to agrochemical interests that we've come to
expect from Vic Fazio," said Bill Walker, California director of the
Environmental Working Group. "But it is a serious betrayal of the Clinton
Admininistration's commitment to protect the environment and public health.
Methyl bromide has been scheduled for phaseout in California since 1984 -
how much longer will we allow this dangerous and unnecessary chemical to
remain on the market?"
Methyl bromide has been found to cause birth defects and brain damage in
laboratory animals, and dangerous levels of drift have been documented in
neighborhoods and schools near fields where it is applied. More than 17
million pounds of the pesticide were applied in California in 1995, and in
1996 a scheduled statewide ban under the Birth Defects Prevention Act was
delayed by Governor Wilson.
"Politicians at both the state and national levels have turned their backs
on the people suffering from exposure to methyl bromide," said Jeanne
Merrill of Pesticide Watch. "We call on President Clinton and the other
politicians who approve this delay to visit the Central Coast of California
during fumigation season and experience first-hand what these communities
Methyl bromide is primarily used as a fumigant to sterilize soil before
planting. In California, strawberries use the majority of methyl bromide
(4.2 million pounds in 1995), followed by grapes, almonds and other crops.
The pesticide is also used heavily in Florida by tomato producers.
Under the international treaty known as the Montreal Protocol, methyl
bromide will be banned by all industrialized countries in 2005, with
interim cuts of 25 percent in 1999, 50 percent in 2001, and 70 percent in
2003. Many countries in Europe have already banned the pesticide or will do
so before 2001, and the European Union is currently considering a 2001
phaseout date. Alternatives have been documented worldwide for most methyl
NASA recently reported that the Antarctic ozone hole is the largest and
deepest ever documented this year - approximately the size of Canada and
the United States combined. Methyl bromide is a fast-acting and potent
ozone depleting chemical, destroying 50 times more ozone per molecule than
Californians for Pesticide Reform
49 Powell Street, Suite 530
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone 415-981-3939 ext. 6
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