EU and US to clash over phase-out of methyl bromide

A new environmental conflict between the US and the EU is looming over the 15th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP-15) held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 10-14 November 2003.

In Nairobi, the Bush government will try to find support for broad exemptions to the 2005 ban on methyl bromide. The US government is under considerable pressure from its farmers and the chemical producers to seek exemptions. American officials and farmers say that the alternatives to the use of methyl bromide are either untested or too expensive. The U.S. government has introduced a request for a two-year exemption with a 39 per cent of its baseline consumption in 2005 and 37 per cent in 2006. It requested these exemptions for certain crops where it believes “no safe, effective and economically viable alternatives” exist.

The European Union opposes exemptions to the ban, saying that there are enough substitute chemicals available and that the American request could endanger the progress achieved on reducing the ozone layer depletion.


From 10-14 November, representatives of around 180 countries will meet in Nairobi, Kenya for the 15th meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol. The Montreal Protocol is the United Nations Treaty on substances that deplete the ozone layer. It has been signed by 183 countries, including the European Union and the United States.

One of the most contentious issues on the agenda is the phase-out of the pesticide methyl bromide. Over the years, the signatories of the Protocol have agreed that the production and importation of methyl bromide should be gradually scaled down and that the pesticide should be banned completely from 2005 (developing countries have ten more years to implement the ban).

Methyl bromide is a broad spectrum pesticide used in the control of pest insects, weeds, pathogens, and rodents. It is considered to be a significant ozone depleting substance.


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