Pesticide Alternative

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Auburn University researchers say they've developed a substitute pesticide for methyl bromide. Methyl bromide is a widely used pest, weed and plant disease killer that's being phased out because it damages the ozone.

For many farm operations, finding a substitute is a matter of economic survival because of their years of dependence on methyl bromide.

For the pesticide industry, the right substitute could boost corporate profits as debate swirls over one of the chief environmental issues in global agriculture, according to government officials and researchers.

Despite an outcry from farmers who rely on it, particularly in California and Florida, methyl bromide production is scheduled to be phased out in the United States by January 1st, 2005.

The phase out is part of the 1987 United Nations Montreal treaty to reduce ozone-depleting substances.

Methyl bromide users argue there's no substitute as potent as this highly toxic gas that is injected into the ground before planting.

It can be fatal to humans in large doses and causes a range of neurological problems at lower concentrations.