Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have developed a pesticide-free technology killing codling moths, oriental fruit moths and some other insect fruit pests by subjecting them to rising temperatures, low oxygen and high carbon dioxide levels.

This ‘Controlled Atmosphere/Temperature Treatment System’ is being designed as a post-harvest treatment for apples, peaches, pears, cherries and nectarines that have been earmarked for export to foreign markets.

The technology could give US and other western fruit producers an effective alternative to methyl bromide fumigation, whose use is under pressure because it damages the ozone layer. The gas is also expensive, costing around US$10 a pound, says the ARS.