UN agency, EU partner to reduce risks from pesticides in Belarus

Highly hazardous pesticides should be phased out because it has proven very difficult to ensure proper handling. Photo: FAO/Asim Hafeez

11 February 2014 – Over the next two and a half years, the United Nations food agency will provide technical assistance to Belarus in managing its stocks of obsolete pesticides, it was announced today.

The effort is part of a joint plan with the European Union, launched in 2012 throughout the former Soviet Union, to build capacity to minimize the threats from hazardous waste to human health and the environment, as well as to strengthen legislation and build capacity in the management of pesticide containers.

An estimated 200,000 tons of obsolete pesticides, around 40 per cent of the world’s stockpiles, can be found in Belarus and the 11 other former Soviet republics, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

“Kept in tens of thousands of unprotected sites, they pose a serious threat to peoples’ health and the environment,” FAO reported.

According to the World Bank, there is significant risk that pesticides could pollute the groundwater in parts of Belarus, affecting well water, along with rivers and other bodies of water in the entire region.

The UN agency will identify and assess the most highly contaminated sites in the country. In addition to also mobilizing resources for risk reduction, the plan also promotes alternatives to the most hazardous chemicals in use, and develops communication strategies to raise awareness among farmers and the public.

“This is an important project for FAO, where our organization has a unique experience,” said Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General for Europe and Central Asia.

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