Several pesticides and industrial chemicals to join UN treaty watch list

Pesticide to be sprayed on food crops

1 April 2011 – United Nations experts have recommended that two pesticides, one severely hazardous pesticide formulation and three industrial chemicals be added to a trade “watch list” under a UN-backed treaty aimed at helping poorer countries more effectively manage potentially harmful imported substances.

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade 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.

It is the first time since the Convention entered into force in 2004 that the Chemical Review Committee has recommended adding a severely hazardous pesticide formulation to the watch list, according to a joint news release issued by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), both of which support the Convention.

The formulation – Gramoxone Super – is an herbicide containing paraquat dichloride, which is used to control weeds in cotton, rice and maize. Burkina Faso had proposed including it to the list due to the problems experienced with its use in that country.

FAO’s Peter Kenmore, Co-Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention, said the addition of this severely hazardous pesticide formulation advances efforts to ensure that “countries’ rights to know and trade chemicals safely are respected.”

The two pesticides recommended for inclusion are endosulfan and azinphos methyl, while the three industrial chemicals are perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), its salts and precursors; pentaBDE commercial mixtures; and octaBDE commercial mixtures.

PentaBDE and octaBDE commercial mixtures are brominated flame retardants. Due to their toxicity and persistence, their industrial production is set to be eliminated under the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

“The recommendation to include these three industrial chemicals marks an acceleration in the rate of submission of industrial chemicals to the CRC for review of these substances known to harm human health and the environment,” said Donald Cooper, Co-Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention.

The recommendations will be forwarded to the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention in June.


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