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Charles E. Ophardt, Professor of Chemistry, Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL 60126, charleso@elmhurst.edu, Copyright 2004

ISSUE # 4:
METHYL BROMIDE BAN TO PREVENT OZONE DEPLETION?

DEBATE QUESTION:
Should the United States take a leading role in banning the production and use of methyl bromide because it is an ozone depleting chemical?

Issue 4 Introduction
Debate Question
Issue 4 On-line Discussion
Internet Resource Sites

INTRODUCTION:

Use of Methyl bromide in Agriculture:

Methyl bromide is a toxic pesticide that is injected into soil before planting strawberries, grapes, almonds and other crops (85% of its use).

It is also used to kill pests in stored and quarantine treatment of commodities, in agricultural shipments and in buildings. In this use, the methyl bromide is pumped as a gas into sealed containers or room containing various commodities which may include various fruits and vegetables. Some countries require this treatment before import or export of certain fruits or vegetables. For example, lumber from certain Asian countries is treated with methyl bromide to kill the long horned beetle which has infested some trees in the Chicago area.

Strawberries: Here are a couple of links to a site where methyl bromide is used as a soil fumigant before planting strawberries. Dave Peck of Manzanita Farms was kind enough to respond to one of our debate discussion forums. As a result, I asked him for some more information about the use of methylbromide in his operation. He wrote the following letter/essay in response:

Manzanita Farms - growing strawberries - look in particular at (B.) Soil Preparation

Essay Explaining the use of methyl bromide in growing strawberries - Dave Peck, Manzanita Farms - further info

Alternative to Methyl Bromide: A communication from Dave Peck, Nov. 21, 2002: "We have forsaken methyl-bromide for good, opting to use the chloropicrin and Telone 2 (Dow Chemical's "Inline") on 100% of our 300 acres this year. It is an economically reasonable alternative and works well with our berry variety.

Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depeltion:

In 1987, an international agreement known as the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed by many nations. The Protocol required the that CFC production would be reduced to one-half of the 1986 levels by 1998. Based upon a growing understanding of the cause of the ozone hole and the potential for global ozone depletion, approximately 100 nations in 1990, agreed to a complete ban on the use of CFCs in 2000. Subsequently, in 1992, President George Bush ordered the complete halt to CFC production in the United States after December 31, 1995.

Debate on Future Restrictions of Ozone Depleting Chemicals

Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
UNEP Supplement to the 1994 Assessments
"4. Summary
This synthesis report examines the scientific, technical, and economic implications for a range of scenarios of possible action that could be considered by the Parties to the Montreal Protocol. The report highlights that, from the scientific perspective of reducing the risks of future ozone depletion, key steps that the Parties may want to consider include:
* Insuring full compliance with the Montreal Protocol as amended in Copenhagen;
* Actions to reduce production and consumption of methyl bromide in non-Article 5(1) countries.
* Actions to collect and destroy existing CFC and halon stocks; and
* Actions to limit future growth in HCFCs and methyl bromide in Article 5(1) countries."

Optional Reference: For further information see:

The following contains the most definitive assessments and answers to questions about ozone depletion - fairly technical iin nature but the Executuve summary is somewhat readable.

Montreal Protocol - Ozone Depletion Assessment - 2006

"Twenty Questions and Answers About the Ozone Layer"



DEBATE QUESTION:
Should the United States take a leading role in banning the production and use of methyl bromide because it is an ozone depleting chemical? (As of 2005 the production of methyl bromide in the U.S. has been largely banned according to the treaty, however there are still many exceptions for the use in this country and others around the world. So perhaps the question could be repharsed to say banning ALL uses, including the exceptions.)

Discussion

The instructor will divide the students into "YES" and "NO" groups for the purposes of debate.

 Group 1. Students ID (1 - 13)

 Group 2. Students ID (14 - 30)

 Assigments are by student ID numbers.
 Option # 1 NO: Students ID 1 - 7  Option # 1 NO: Students ID 14 - 20
 Option # 2 YES: Students ID 8 - 13  Option # 2 YES: Students ID 21 - 30


RESOURCES:
Pamela Zurer, "Fate of Methyl Bromide is Still Up in the Air", C & E News, November 14, 1994. (CHM 110 Lab manual).

INTERNET WWW SITES:

General Information on Ozone Depletion

Ozone Multimedia Tour

EPA Science of Ozone: Look especially at: Environmental Indicators - Ozone Depletion

Series of Graphics on Ozone Hole - Climate Prediction Center

Stratospheric Ozone Explanations





Sites that support the ban of Methyl Bromide

Methyl Bromide Use Map in the U.S.

What is methyl bromide
EPA methyl bromide home page


ARS Methyl bromide Research and Alternatives

Methyl Bromide Alternatives


Sites that support the continued use of Methyl Bromide

Essay Explaining the use of methylbromide in growing strawberries - Dave Peck, Manzanita Farms

Manzanita Farms - growing strawberries (look in particular at B. Soil Preparation

Position Paper: A Reason to Oppose the Methyl bromide ban

Methyl Bromide Does Not Stick Around -

Alternatives to Methyl Bromide: Skip down to Introduction for reasons not to ban methyl Br

Rumors about the phaseout of methyl bromide - gives the rumor about why methyl bromide should not be banned and then gives an answer.

Loss of Fumigant will hurt U.S. Farmers

Methy Bromide and Ozone - Solution: tax rather than ban

Loss of Methyl Bromide - Impact on the Strawberry Nursery Industry

 


DEBATE QUESTION:
Should the United States take a leading role in banning the production and use of methyl bromide because it is an ozone depleting chemical?

On-Line Discussion



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