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NAMA Fights for the Use of Tool to Keep Insects out of Consumers' Food

March 25, 2004

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

Montreal, Canada – March 25, 2004 – The North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) is defending the use of methyl bromide as a food safety and sanitation tool by farmers and food processors at an Extraordinary Meeting of the United Nations (UN) in Montreal, Canada March 24-26. The Montreal Protocol, a UN treaty, bans the use of methyl bromide beyond January 1, 2005. The ban is due to concerns about methyl bromide’s possible contribution to ozone depletion. Under the treaty, most of the U.S.’ agricultural competitors get to continue using it until at least 2015. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, after an extensive review, has confirmed the need for methyl bromide for milling and other uses.

NAMA vice president, Jim Bair, said, “If our uses of methyl bromide are 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 merely shifts jobs and economic activity offshore with no real gain to the environment. “

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. Most methyl bromide in the environment comes from natural sources like oceans, and less than three percent of the man-made methyl bromide is attributed to agricultural uses. More than $140 million has been spent to find an alternative, with little or no success.

“Methyl bromide helps keep insects out of our food products,” said Bair. “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. “

NAMA has 46 member companies operating 170 wheat, corn, oat and rye mills in 38 states and 150 cities. The aggregate production capacity of NAMA’s membership is more than 160 million pounds of product daily, which is about 95% of the total U.S. capacity.

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

 

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