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Christmas Strawberries Expanding The Ozone Hole?

9 December 2004

Christmas strawberries expanding the ozone hole?

Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley is shocked that the Government has broken its promise to stop use of ozone-depleting gas, methyl bromide for agricultural purposes by 1 January, 2005.

New Zealand sought and was granted, an exemption at the 16th Meeting of Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Prague on November 26, allowing strawberry growers to use 40.5 tonnes of methyl bromide for soil sterilisation during 2005 and 2006.

"This exemption will see the hole in the ozone layer increase by 8.1 square kilometres a year, severely increasing the risk of skin cancer among New Zealanders," said Ms Kedgley.

She is calling on consumers buying Christmas strawberries to ask their supermarkets to guarantee that they have not been grown or treated with one of the 'most highly toxic and ozone-depleting gases in existence'.

"The public needs to understand that 40.5 tonnes of it will destroy 20.46 tonnes of ozone," Ms Kedgley.

"Put simply, that means strawberry growers using methyl bromide will increase the hole in the ozone layer by 8.1 sq kilometre a year. New Zealand made a commitment to stop using methyl bromide for agricultural purposes by January 2005 when it ratified the Montreal Protocol in 1988. It is shocking that the Government has quietly reneged on this commitment, given that there are perfectly acceptable and effective alternatives such as steam to sterilise soil.

"In addition to breaking their promise, the Government's exemption represents a 100% increase in the amount of methyl bromide that strawberries growers used last year. So much for a commitment to protect the ozone layer.

"New Zealand is particularly at risk because the ozone hole sits directly above us. For this reason, we should be leading the campaign internationally to get rid of methyl bromide."


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