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U.S. Farmers Use Pesticide Despite Treaty

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posted on Nov, 28 2005 @ 10:33 AM

Strawberries are a painful subject for Guillermo Ruiz. The farm worker believes his headaches, confusion and vision trouble stem from a decade working in the fields with methyl bromide, a pesticide that protects the berries with stunning efficiency.

Other nations watch as the United States keeps permitting wide use of methyl bromide for tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, Christmas trees and other crops, even though the U.S. signed an international treaty banning all but the most critical uses by 2005.

The chemical depletes the earth's protective ozone layer and can harm the human neurological system,

Odorless and colorless, methyl bromide is a gas that usually is injected by tractor into soil before planting, then covered with plastic sheeting to slow its release into the air. It wipes out plant parasites, disease and weeds. It results in a spectacular yield, reduced weeding costs and a longer growing season.

Workers who inhale enough of the chemical can suffer convulsions, coma and neuromuscular and cognitive problems. In rare cases, they can die.

The U.S. signed the Montreal Protocol treaty, committing to phase out methyl bromide by 2005 as part of the effort to protect the earth's ozone layer.

A provision allows for exemptions to prevent "market disruption." The U.S. has used it to persuade treaty signers to allow U.S. farmers to continue using the chemical.

The American Association of Pesticide Control Centers logged 395 reports of methyl bromide poisonings from 1999 to 2004.

Ruiz and Jorge Fernandez, two California farmworkers, say they saw plenty wrong in the strawberry fields they worked, starting with the dogs, birds and deer that lay lifeless when the workers arrived to remove plastic sheeting from fumigated fields. "That's how we knew this was a dangerous chemical," Ruiz said.

The size of the U.S. inventory of methyl bromide inventory is secret. The EPA refuses to disclose how much, saying the figure is confidential business information. Doniger's group says in a suit against the agency that the amount exceeds 11,000 tons.

Methyl Bromide, I have never heard of it before and was not aware that this treaty was even on the books, but it sounds like some nasty stuff. They inject this stuff into the soil which makes me wonder what effects it has on future crops that are grown in the area even if it wasnt applied in that particular year.

And also, if we are going to sign a treaty we should be doing our best to honor that treaty. Is it just me but do others think that we are using the disruption to market forces as an excuse not to honor this treaty.

I like cheap and plentiful food, but at what cost?

posted on Nov, 28 2005 @ 10:51 PM

DDT is still manufactured clandestinely and used in most of the U.S. (Easy. Can be made in any garage with legally purchased over-the-counter chemicals by someone with high school chemistry.)

It is also smuggled into the U.S. from other countries.

posted on Nov, 29 2005 @ 02:00 AM
If we are going to sign a treaty we should be doing our best to honor that treaty and it doesn't appear that we are doing our best to honor it.

Our word as a Nation means something. It is a bad reflection on us as a people if we do not honor our own treaties. Why should any other countries believe anything that we say if we dont?


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