Police arrested an employee at the Agriculture Ministry on Thursday on suspicion of selling fake permits to purchase a controlled chemical pesticide. The suspect, Uri Haim, allegedly sold permits to farmers that allowed them to buy 67 tons of a substance called Methyl Bromide, which is closely regulated because of its harmful effects on the environment, over the last two years.
United StatesIn the United States methyl bromide is regulated as a pesticide under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA; 7 U.S.C. 136 et seq.) and as a hazardous substance under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA; 42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.), and is subject to reporting requirements under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA; 42 U.S.C. 11001 et seq.). The U.S. Clean Air Act (CAA; 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.). A 1998 amendment (P.L. 105-178, Title VI) conformed the Clean Air Act phase out date with that of the Montreal Protocol. Whereas the Montreal Protocol has severely restricted the use of bromomethane internationally, the United States has successfully lobbied for critical-use exemptions. In 2004, over 7 million pounds of bromomethane were applied to California. Applications include tomato, strawberry, and ornamental shrub growers, and fumigation of ham/pork products.
Methyl bromide is an odorless, colorless gas that is a highly efficient soil fumigant used to control pests across a wide range of agricultural sectors. In the late 1980s it was discovered that Methyl Bromide depletes the stratospheric ozone layer and, ever since, governments have been taking efforts to phase out its use.
In 1992 Israel ratified the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer and began initiating a plan to gradually reduce the use of the pesticide. According to the Agriculture Ministry, use of the substance is set to be entirely banned by the end of 2011.
Farmers complained of receiving ‘fake permits’
Ben-Even stressed that Methyl Bromide is considered a dangerous substance because it can also potentially be used for making explosives.
“We found out about the alleged forgeries after hearing complaints from farmers and receiving copies of the fake permits,” said Agriculture Ministry spokeswoman Dafna Yurista.
“We then approached the police with our suspicions and filed a formal complaint.”more JP