UN experts call for two pesticides to join international trade watch list

19 March 2010 – United Nations experts have recommended that two pesticides be added to a trade “watch list” under a UN-backed treaty aimed at helping poorer countries more effectively manage potentially harmful imported substances.

Endosulfan and azinphos-methyl each pose an unacceptably high risk to human health and the environment, according to the Chemical Review Committee with the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.

The committee experts based their recommendations on a review of actions by national regulators towards the two pesticides, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a joint press release issued today in Geneva.

Endosulfan, an insecticide used in the production of crops, especially cotton, coffee and tea, is a persistent organic pollutant (POP) and can lead to reproductive and developmental damage in humans and animals.

Azinphos-methyl, an insecticide derived from nerve agents developed during the Second World War, is mostly used in the production of vegetables and on several kinds of fruit trees. It is considered toxic to humans and has been linked to reproductive and developmental damage.

Parties to the Rotterdam Convention will consider including the two chemicals to the watch list at a meeting next year.

There are currently 29 pesticides and 11 industrial chemicals on the Rotterdam Convention’s international trade watch list, under which an exporting nation must ensure no substance on the list leaves its territory without the consent of the recipient country.

The Convention is designed to ensure that hazardous chemicals do not endanger human health and the environment but inclusion on the list is not a recommendation for an international ban or severe restriction of the use of the substance.


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