International Conference on Methyl Bromide Opens HereBy Doris Stanley
December 3, 1998
ORLANDO, Dec. 3--Scientists from around the world will gather here on Monday, Dec. 7, to discuss progress on finding an alternative to methyl bromide, a widely used pesticide that will be banned in 2005. Meetings will be held at the Omni Rosen Hotel on Dec. 7-9.
Methyl bromide is used as a soil fumigant before planting to control plant pathogens and weeds, as a quarantine treatment on harvested crops, as a pest control on stored commodities and as a structural fumigant. Identified as an ozone depletor, the chemical is being phased out gradually under the U.S. Clean Air Act.
Unless viable alternatives are found, loss of methyl bromide will cause dire problems for agriculture globally, said Kenneth W. Vick, methyl bromide coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We hold this conference annually so that scientists and industry representatives from around the world can discuss their progress in seeking potential replacements for this chemical that has made agricultural production what it is today.
Vick leads methyl bromide research for the Agricultural Research Service, USDAs chief scientific research agency.
Hardest hit by the impending ban will be growers in Florida and California. They use methyl bromide to fumigate soil before planting strawberries, tomatoes and other crops.ARS scientists at our lab here in Orlando have been researching potential alternatives to this fumigant for some time, Vick said. At the conference, Roy McDonald will report on their use of irradiation as a quarantine treatment to rid grapefruit of pests. Irradiation effectively kills pests, but it can also damage fruit. McDonald and colleagues found that irradiation stresses the fruit, leading to pitting in the peel. By treating the fruit with heat before irradiation, they reduced the damaging effects of the irradiation.
The U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory is located on Camden Road in Orlando.
At the conference, 20 ARS scientists will report on methyl bromide-related research, including the following:
More than 122 participants from 14 countries are registered for the conference. About 131 scientific papers on the methyl bromide issue will be presented. The conference is sponsored by USDA, the Methyl Bromide Alternatives Outreach in Fresno, Calif., Californias Crop Protection Coalition and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Scientific contact: Scientists mentioned in this release can be reached from Dec. 7-9 at the Omni Rosen Hotel, 9840 International Drive, Orlando, Fla., phone (407) 354-9840 or (800) 800-9840. After Dec. 9, Kenneth W. Vick can be reached at ARS' National Program Staff, Beltsville, Md., phone (301) 504-5321, fax (301) 504-5987