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UN green meeting agrees to defer decision on pesticide exemption

UN green meeting agrees to defer decision on pesticide exemption

Delegates at a United Nations environmental meeting in Nairobi today deferred a decision until next year on whether to grant an exemption over the phasing out of an ozone-damaging pesticide.

According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the delegates agreed they needed more time to work out exactly what exemptions farmers in the developed world should have for using methyl bromide, a chemical used to kill pests such as nematode worms.

At a meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, held at UNEP’s Nairobi headquarters, delegates discussed the scheduled phasing out by January 2005 of methyl bromide, which depletes the world’s ozone layer.

North American and European farmers, especially in the strawberry, melon, pepper and tomato growing industries, have argued for an exemption allowing about 15,000 tons of methyl bromide to be consumed in 2005, according to UNEP. They say the available alternatives are not yet technically or economically feasible for use.

The delegates decided to press again for consensus at an extraordinary meeting on the issue in March next year in Montreal.

UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said the delegates “felt they needed more time to find an agreement which balances the interests of farmers and other users of methyl bromide with international agreements to repair the Earth’s protective shield.”