I am new to magento and think it is swell. In response to the original post, I have found a more elegant solution to the bl2br() problem that is presented.
Overall I like the way that the product management works. Most clients will not need to enter any html wich ultimately keeps the presentation neat. I like that. However our client requires a size chart for fly rod to be placed into their description field. This caused the same problem with nl2br () creating many unwanted <br /> prior to table placement.
Removing the nl2br is an option but the client had already entered many many products.
This is the workaround:
for the description field I edited /app/design/frontend/default/default/template/catalog/product/view/description.phtml
// remove any carriage returns (mysql)
$string = str_replace("\r", '', $string);
// replace any newlines that aren't preceded by a > with a <br />
$string = preg_replace('/(?<!>)\n/', "<br />\n", $string);