P A N U P S
Pesticide Action Network
UN Confirms Significant Ozone Destruction
March 3, 1995
Elimination of Toxic Pesticide Cited as Critical Measure to
Protect Ozone Shield
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has just
released nine reports detailing significant destruction of
the Earth's protective ozone shield. UNEP scientists also
recommended ways to limit ozone layer loss. The elimination
of methyl bromide, a heavily-used agricultural pesticide and
fumigant, was cited as a critical control measure.
"Contrary to the Rush Limbaughs of the world, the UN reports
confirm that the ozone layer is in serious trouble," said Joe
Mendelson, Director of the Ozone Protection Project at
Friends of the Earth. "The good news is that there are ways
to stop ozone destruction, including eliminating methyl
bromide. It's time to act on the UN's recommendations."
The world's leading atmospheric scientists confirmed that
methyl bromide continues to be viewed as a significant ozone-
depleting compound. The 226 scientists estimate that bromine,
a principle component of methyl bromide, is at least 50 times
more destructive to the ozone layer on a per atom basis than
chlorine from the better known chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
The report concludes that eliminating human sources of methyl
bromide in the year 2001 is the most significant approach to
reducing ozone loss over the next several decades.
The UN report also documents record low ozone levels during
the past two years, with the Antarctic ozone 'holes' of 1992
and 1993 . . . the most severe on record. In 1994, the ozone
hole covered a surface area approximately the size of the
North American continent. The report also finds substantial
decreases of ozone above the Northern Hemisphere, with
declines of 6% per decade from 1979 to 1994 in winter and
Previous estimates by UN scientists indicated that methyl
bromide is responsible for 5-10% of worldwide ozone depletion
-- a share expected to increase to 15% by the year 2000.
Because of its contribution to ozone loss, methyl bromide
will be phased out in the U.S. in the year 2001 under the
federal Clean Air Act. There is no international agreement to
phase out this pesticide.
Despite the 3,000 pages of UN evidence, recently leaked
documents detail a concerted industry effort to circumvent
the Clean Air Act and prolong the use of methyl bromide. The
Methyl Bromide Working Group, a coalition of the pesticide's
manufacturers and users, has launched a multi-million dollar
effort to stop the planned U.S. phaseout of the pesticide.
The Working Group includes Great Lakes Chemical Company and
Ethyl Corporation, the two primary U.S. producers of methyl
bromide, and Trical, the largest applicator of the pesticide
In a January 1995 letter to its supporters, the industry
group said, we intend to change the law which allows the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency to ban methyl bromide, and we
stand an increasingly good chance of being able to use methyl
bromide well beyond the year 2001. The document also states
that scientists now agree that methyl bromide is not as
harmful to the ozone layer as first suspected.
"The Methyl Bromide Working Group is an industry front group
that, like tobacco companies, puts corporate profits ahead of
human health," said Anne Schonfield of the Methyl Bromide
Alternatives Network (MBAN). "Their outrageous misinformation
campaign ignores the international scientific consensus on
methyl bromide and uses pseudo-science to trick American
farmers and the public about this lethal pesticide."
Methyl bromide is a widely-used pesticide that is highly
toxic and extremely dangerous to humans. At least 15 people
died from exposure to this pesticide in California in the
last decade. Methyl bromide is used to kill living organisms
in soil before planting, in stored agricultural commodities,
in homes and buildings. A few crops are heavily dependent on
methyl bromide, including tomatoes in Florida, strawberries
in California, and tobacco, grapes and nursery plants in
several states. Tomatoes and strawberries alone account for
half of total U.S. methyl bromide use.
Increased ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation from ozone depletion
can cause increased skin cancer rates, eye cataracts leading
to blindness and decreased productivity of marine and
agricultural ecosystems. The UN documents released today
indicate that UV-B radiation can suppress human immune
systems, interfering with the effectiveness of vaccines.
The Methyl Bromide Alternatives Network is a national
coalition of consumer, environmental, farmer and grassroots
organizations working to phase out methyl bromide and replace
it with safe alternatives. One of the recently released UN
reports documents a wide variety of alternatives to this
For copies of the UN reports, please contact U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency Stratospheric Ozone Hotline,
Source: MBAN Press Release, March 2, 1995.
Contact: Anne Schonfield, PANNA and Joe Mendelson, Friends of
the Earth, 1025 Vermont Ave. NW, Washington DC 20005; phone
(202) 783-7400 ext. 291; fax (202) 783-0444; email
| PANNA | For standard information |
| Phone:(415) 541-9140 | about PANNA send a short |
| Fax:(415) 541-9253 | email message to |
| email: firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com |
| gopher: gopher.econet.apc.org| |
| ___ |
| To subscribe to PANUPS send email to MAJORDOMO@igc.apc.org|
| with the following text on one line: subscribe panups |
| To unsubscibe send the following: unsubscribe panups |