Let Them Eat Tomatoes

The Bush Administration is pressing to sharply increase the use of methyl bromide — the most dangerous ozone-depleting chemical and due to be phased out next year by the Montreal protocol — to benefit strawberry and tomato growers in the electorally important state of Florida, The Independent‘s Geoffrey Lean reports. While the chemical has already been reduced to 30 percent of the former level, since the Reagan administration signed the Montreal protocol in 1987, several countries have recently requested one-year exemptions. The United States, however, stands alone in demanding indefinite increase in use.

Lean reports that talks broke down without agreement at a conference in Nairobi this month when U.S. delegates refused any compromise. The European Union offered a settlement whereby farmers could continue using the chemical at current levels, even though this, in itself, would violate the treaty. U.S. negotiators insisted, however, on unchecked increase of methyl bromide, threatening to pull out of the treaty altogether.

The fact that Bush pulled out of the Kyoto protocol and is pushing the U.S. to re-enter the nuclear arms race are two signs that this administration is ridiculously short-sighted. This latest slap in the face — the provisions of the treaty were forecast to prevent two million cancers in the West alone — to the youth of America and the world is done with such baldly political motives as to make clear the selfish motives behind Bush’s decisions. And unless Bush has a change of heart, the world will watch one more critically important treaty to the health of the world flushed down the toilet for political gain.
Joel Stonington

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