THE METHYL BROMIDE ISSUE: PROBLEMS AND POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS
Methyl bromide (MB) is the major soil fumigant in use worldwide and is highly effective in controlling a variety of soilborne pests, especially in intensive crops. However, due to its role in the depletion of the ozone layer, international agreement has been reached calling for its reduced consumption and complete phasing out by the year 2005 in developed countries. Hence there is a need to develop means of immediately reducing its dosage and consumption and to find alternatives to replace it. One way of reducing MB dosages without reducing its effectiveness in pest control can be achieved by using plastic sheets which are less impermeable to MB, thus delaying its escape to the atmosphere. Reduced dosages can also be achieved by improving technology of application and combining MB with other methods of control. Many potential and existing nonchemical and chemical alternatives to MB are available, but none can totally replace MB under all circumstances. Since MB affects a wide spectrum of pest control, integrated pest management (IPM) approach is called for. IPM aims at integrating all available, effective and environmentally acceptable methods of management, using them only when necessary while considering the environmental, social, economic and legal requirements with every alternative. Combing methods of control has many advantages and frequently results in improved control. Knowledge regarding the alternatives that will be developed has to be disseminated and transferred, and to this end, education and extension tools need to be further developed, in order to ascertain that the new alternatives are appropriately introduced for farmer’s use.