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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 December 2006, 09:16 GMT
EU gas ban hits UK cheese-makers
The European Commission is concerned about the ozone layer.
Traditional Cheddar cheese-makers say their future could be in doubt because the European Commission has banned them from using a pesticide.

They are angry that European legislation now prohibits them from using methyl bromide to kill mites.

As the cheddar matures, mites attached to the muslin cloth it is wrapped in can cause mould to grow under the rind.

The cheese-makers say they will need extra staff to brush them away. The ban is aimed at protecting the ozone layer.

Ozone layer

Six years ago, 160 countries agreed in the Montreal Protocol to phase out substances that are known to deplete the ozone layer - methyl bromide was among them.

The substance is widely used for fumigating agricultural products and to kill the organisms in soil in which crops such as tomatoes and strawberries are to be planted.

Research shows only about a fifth of the methyl bromide that enters the atmosphere comes from human activity, but it is said to be such "a powerful ozone depleter" that banning it is thought to make an important contribution to restoring the ozone layer.

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