Saturday, December 25, 2004

"Strawberry Fields Forever" (apologies to Lennon/McCartney)

In the 1960's Lennon and McCartney wrote their song, "Strawberry Fields Forever".

A wonderful song, they wrote:
Let me take you down
cause I'm going to strawberry fields
Nothing is real
and nothing to get hung about
Strawberry fields forever

Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you see
It's getting hard to be someone
but it all works out
It doesn't matter much to me

This Administration has been living and governing "with eyes closed. Misunderstanding all you see." As was reported in the Washington Post:
International negotiators ruled yesterday that the United States can continue using methyl bromide, a pesticide set to be banned next year because it contributes to the destruction of the Earth's ozone layer.

The pesticide, which has also been linked to prostate cancer and neurological damage, is used widely by American tomato and strawberry farmers and was slated to be eliminated worldwide in 2005 under the Montreal Protocol, the 1987 treaty to restrict the use of ozone-destroying chemicals. The Bush administration had previously secured a one-year reprieve on the grounds that the pesticide qualified for a "critical use" exemption because viable alternatives to methyl bromide are lacking. Yesterday, experts on ozone policy and diplomats extended the U.S. exemption until next year but said the country must cut its use in 2006.

For a strawberry farmer, opposition to this pesticide is silly. As was reported, a Florida strawberry farmer called:
...the people who think methyl bromide depletes the ozone "tree huggers and frog kissers."

In reality, methyl bromide has been shown to deplete the ozone layer and results in serious medical consequences. Depletion of the ozone layer will result in greater transmission of UV-B radiation to people and result in harmful effects including as noted:
The best understood harmful effects of UV-B radiation on human health are basal and squamous cell cancers of the skin and eye damage, including cataracts, which can lead to blindness.

UV-B radiation also contributes to the development of melanoma skin cancer and perturbs the body's immune system in ways that can reduce immunity to infectious agents, although magnitude of the impacts cannot yet be estimated. UV-B radiation may also affect human health indirectly by interfering with the food chain. On a global scale, UV-B radiation may increase the infectious disease burden, cause blindness, and reduce the world's food supply.

The current pattern of ozone depletion will cause the incidence of skin cancer to continue to rise at least until the year 2050 and probably beyond. For each 1% reduction in ozone, the incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer will increase by 2%. This means that a sustained 10% decrease in the average ozone concentration would lead to about 250,000 additional non-melanoma skin cancers each year.

-Each 1% decrease in ozone concentration is estimated to increase the incidence of cataracts by about 0.5%.

-Increased UV-B radiation could increase the severity of some infections in human populations. Furthermore, skin pigmentation does not seem to provide much protection against the immunosuppressive effects of UV irradiation in humans. Any lowering of immune defenses is likely to have a devastating impact on human health.

Once again, this President has put the pursuit of profits ahead of the quality of life and the general welfare of the American people.

And what has Kerry had to say about this? He stated in an interview:
"The ability to allow countries to pursue critical use exemptions for methyl bromide was a key component of securing many countries' support, including the U.S., for a graduated phase-out of most methyl bromide use in 2005. As President, I would support the continued granting of critical use exemptions for those users that have no technically and economically viable alternatives to methyl bromide. And recognizing the fact that methyl bromide is both an ozone depleting substance and a critical tool for many U.S. farmers, I would support an aggressive research effort, both through public research and publicprivate partnerships, to develop, field test, and register efficacious and cost-effective replacements for methyl bromide".

Once again demonstrating a moderate, common-sense answer, aware of the risks, the needs for usage, and the role of research in finding replacements. Wouldn't our nation be stronger with Kerry at the helm?



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