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NAMA calls on Congress and Administration to save fumigant important for food cleanliness

June 3, 2003

CONTACT: James Bair, Vice President
202.484.2200, ext.107
jbair@namamillers.org

Washington, D.C. – June 3, 2003 – In a hearing of the United States House of Representatives today, Richard C. Siemer testified in behalf of the North American Miller’s Association (NAMA) in favor of freezing the pending ban on methyl bromide, a fumigant important for many food production and sanitation uses. Siemer is president of Siemer Milling Company.

“Methyl bromide helps keep insects out of our food products,” said Siemer. “That allows us to meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s strict rules for clean and wholesome food, and we take those rules very seriously. We do so because it’s the law, but just as importantly because clean food is something we want to provide and consumers expect.”

The NAMA testimony calls on the Administration to either renegotiate the United Nations Montreal Protocol Treaty this year to allow the U.S. more time beyond 2005, or support action by Congress to amend U.S. law to freeze the phase-out level at 50%, the level in effect prior to 2003.

Most methyl bromide use in the U.S. is for fumigating soil prior to fruit and vegetable production. Grain millers use it to sanitize the mill building, not grain or finished products. The ban is due to concerns about its possible contribution to ozone depletion, although most methyl bromide in the environment comes from natural sources like oceans, and less than 3 percent of the man-made methyl bromide is attributed to agricultural uses.

Methyl bromide use has already been cut 70%, and without changes in the treaty or U.S. law the fumigant will be banned completely in the U.S. January 1, 2005. Yet, under the treaty, most of the U.S.’ agricultural competitors get to continue using it until at least 2015.

Siemer said, “If our uses of methyl bromide are, contrary to logic, very harmful to the environment, then it should be banned globally on the same date, and the sooner the better. But banning methyl bromide in the U.S. while allowing its continued use elsewhere shifts jobs and economic activity offshore with no real gain to the environment. That is stupid and unfair to U.S. farmers and businesses, both small and large.”

NAMA has 44 member companies operating 170 wheat, corn, oat and rye mills in 38 states and 150 cities. Its membership represents about 90% of the total U.S. capacity.

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Read more:

Hill Contacts:
For a list of NAMA members go to
http://www.namamillers.org/oldsite/a_mbr.html.

For a list of the cities and states where mills are located go to http://www.namamillers.org/oldsite/a_mill.html

Media Contacts:
For background information go to
http://www.namamillers.org/oldsite/is_briefs.html.

For background information on methyl bromide go to http://www.namamillers.org/oldsite/is_m.html.

Read the testimony of Rick Siemer to encourage Congressional action to extend the use beyond 2004 of methyl bromide as a food safety and sanitation tool by the flour milling and food processing industries.

NAMA calls on Congress and Administration to save fumigant important for food cleanliness, June 2, 2003

NAMA Calculates Impact of Methyl Bromide Ban to Exceed $60 Million Annually – Sept. 23, 2002

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