Submitted to: International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Project Newsletter
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: December 1, 2001
Publication Date: February 14, 2002
Citation: Yates, S.R., Wang, D., Papiernik, S.K., Gan, J. 2002. Controlling agricultural emissions of methyl bromide. International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Project Newsletter. 19:16-17, 21. Interpretive Summary: Not Required for Newsletter.
Technical Abstract: During the last 40 to 50 years, methyl bromide (MeBr) has been used to sterilize soils in preparation to planting various high-cash-value fruit and vegetable crops throughout the world. MeBr is a highly toxic chemical and is very effective in controlling a variety of soil-borne pests, such as nematodes, weeds and fungi. MeBr has been a very important component of agricultural systems in the U.S. and its phase-out is expected to cause severe financial hardship on agricultural producers. As the MeBr phase-out date approaches, many questions remain whether restricting MeBr use will have any significant effect on global stratospheric ozone levels. It appears that methodology exists that would enable MeBr emissions from fumigated soils to be reduced by at least one order of magnitude. This would reduce the global MeBr contribution from agricultural use to less than 1% of the world-wide sources. A question that is often overlooked is whether replacement chemicals will be more harmful to the environment than MeBr. And there are rarely incentives to develop technology to minimize negative characteristics before they become environmental or public-health problems. Research is needed to develop new methods to protect the environment from emissions but that do not harm the Nation's economy or food supply.