UC Scientists Search For Alternatives For Methyl Bromide

December 07, 1998

The United States Congress recently postponed for four years a ban on the widely used fumigant methyl bromide, a chemical implicated in the depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer. The Congressional move allies US law with the Montreal Protocol, which calls for methyl bromide use to be reduced in increments, beginning with 25% less in 1999, 50% less in 2001, 75% less in 2003 and then eliminated in 2005. The action renews the sense of urgency felt by farmers nationwide for ways to maintain their economic viability in the absence of the pesticide.Methyl bromide solves an array of problems for farmers. Applied in the field before planting, the gas kills most old plant roots, weed seeds, nematodes, soil fungi and bacteria – organisms that sap vigor from a crop. After harvest, methyl bromide fumigation can ensure that produce being shipped to markets worldwide is free of pests. When the ban takes effect, this extremely effective broad-spectrum pesticide will be replaced with a variety of alternatives. The alternatives are now being developed and the limitations of the alternatives are now being studied by an army of University of California scientists. A sampling of their research follows:
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.