U.S. Loses Bid for Increased Use of Ozone-Depleting Pesticide

A U.S. request for permission to up use of an ozone-depleting fungicide was snubbed last week by representatives from the European Union and developing nations at an international meeting on ozone-layer protection in Nairobi, Kenya. The Montreal Protocol, a 1989 treaty that aims to halt destruction of the ozone layer, calls for developed countries to phase out use of methyl bromide, an ozone-damaging fumigant, by 2005, but American negotiators were pushing for an exemption that would let the U.S. increase production and use of the chemical. That request was denied for the time being, with a final decision deferred until March. Growers of strawberries and tomatoes, many of whom have become dependent on methyl bromide, vowed to push the U.S. Congress to approve increased use of the chemical, though such a move would violate the terms of the Montreal Protocol.