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Daily News Archive
From March 13, 2003

UN Targets Three Hazardous Pesticides for International Trade Control

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is recommending three pesticides, all forms of asbestos and two gasoline lead additives be added to an international list of chemicals subject to trade controls, according to a FAO press release. A committee of government-appointed experts under the Rotterdam Convention made the recommendation, March 10, 2003. The three pesticides targeted are DNOC, parathion and a severely hazardous pesticide formulation that is a mixture of benomyl, thiram and carbofuran.

The Rotterdam Convention was adopted in 1998 under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and FAO as a response to increasing awareness of the health and environment risks associated with hazardous chemicals. The Rotterdam Convention provides importing countries with tools and information to identify potentially hazardous chemicals in order to exclude those they cannot manage safely. The Convention makes legally binding the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure, which requires exporters trading a listed hazardous substance to obtain the prior informed consent of importers before proceeding with the trade.

Initiated by bans in Peru and the European Union, DNOC, an insecticide, herbicide and fungicide, is being recommended to the PIC list because it is highly toxic to humans and also poses a high risk to other organisms.

Triggered by bans in the European Union and Australia, the remaining formulations of parathion are also recommended to be added the to the PIC procedure (certain severely hazardous formulations of parathion are already listed). Like other organophosphate insecticides, parathion poses an acute hazard to hundreds of thousands of farm workers, particularly in developing countries where the lack of protective clothing and appropriate application equipment makes it more likely that people will come in direct contact with pesticides. Effects of poisoning include nausea, diarrhea, blurred vision, and, in severe cases, respiratory depression, convulsions and death.

The Senegalese government initiated the review of Granox TBC and Spinox T, a hazardous pesticide formulation, which contains a mixture of the fungicides benomyl, thiram and carbofuran. Suspicious of an increasing number of reports of illnesses and deaths, the Senegalese government started mapping poisoning incidents in rural areas that were linked to the formulation. Peanut farmers use this pesticide mixture in a powdered form as a seed treatment. In many developing countries, the farmer works without protective clothing and plants manually. In this case, farmers bite on each nut to release the seed, thus resulting in thousands of cases of poisoning with individuals showing symptoms of fevers, chest and abdominal pains, vomiting, insomnia, and a number of deaths, according to FAO.

The recommendations on these chemicals will be discussed by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the Rotterdam Convention on the PIC Procedure for certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, which meets in Geneva from November 17-21, 2003. If adopted, these chemicals will become subject to the PIC procedure. In the interim, governments have agreed to apply the prior informed consent provisions of the Convention on a voluntary basis. Twenty-six pesticides and five industrial chemicals are subject to the interim PIC procedure. The chemicals described above represent additional new entries into the interim PIC procedure.

The interim PIC procedure covers the following 26 pesticides: 2,4,5-T, aldrin, binapacryl, captafol, chlordane, chlordimeform, chlorobenzilate, DDT,
1,2-dibromoethane (EDB), dieldrin, dinoseb, ethylene dichloride, ethylene oxide, fluoroacetamide, HCH, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, lindane, mercury compounds,
monocrotofos, pentachlorophenol, toxaphene, and certain hazardous formulations of methamidophos, methyl-parathion, parathion, and phosphamidon. It also covers five industrial chemicals: crocidolite, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), polychlorinated terphenyls (PCT) and tris (2,3 dibromopropyl) phosphate.

A list of UN PIC and U.S. PIC-nominated pesticides is available on the U.S. EPA website at http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/international/piclist.htm.

For more information, contact: Michael Williams of UNEP in Geneva at (+41 22) 9178 242/244/196, michael.williams@unep.ch; or Erwin Northoff of FAO in Rome at (+39 06) 5705 3105, fax: 5705 4974, e-mail: erwin.northoff@fao.org. The official documents of the meeting and other information can be found at http://www.pic.int.