Friday, July 01, 2011

Three Pesticides Added To International Rotterdam Convention PIC

Jun 27: Parties to a global treaty supporting information exchange in international trade of hazardous chemicals have acted to strengthen protection of human health and the environment by expanding the exchange of critical safety information between exporting and importing States. Agreement was reached on Friday, 24 June 2011, at the conclusion of a week-long meeting held in Geneva [See WIMS 6/20/11]. The fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP5) to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade agreed by consensus to add three pesticides, alachlor, aldicarb and endosulfan, to Annex III of the Convention. Listing in Annex III triggers an exchange of information between Parties and helps countries make informed decisions about future import and use of the chemicals. The U.S. signed the Convention in 1998, but has never ratified the Rotterdam Convention.

    Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director said, "The agreement on listing endosulfan coupled with decisions to strengthen technical assistance and synergies taken by the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention demonstrate that increasing cooperation between the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions is yielding a rich harvest of benefits to countries by the protection of public health and the environment globally." Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) agreed earlier this year to eliminate endosulfan from production and use globally.

    The decisions to list three chemicals were among 12 separate decisions adopted at the conference aimed at strengthening the globe's first line of defense for chemical safety. Amendments to the Convention bringing the three new chemicals under the Prior Informed Consent procedure will enter into force on October 24, 2011. This will raise the number of chemicals covered under the Convention to forty-three. Jim Willis, Executive Secretary said, "The addition of these three chemicals marks the second time since the Convention entered into force that Parties have expanded the Convention's list of substances covered by the Prior Informed Consent procedure. This gives countries that are considering importing hazardous chemicals the right-to-know about the risks they carry and how they can protect public health and the environment, as well as the means to protect against unwanted imports."

    The conference agreed to include endosulfan as a pesticide in Annex III to the Convention as recommended by the Chemical Review Committee, a scientific expert body, at its second and sixth meetings. This marked a breakthrough, as past conferences had been unable to agree on inclusion of the pesticide in Annex III. Countries will now be provided with risk information allowing them to make informed decisions on importation of the hazardous chemical. The pesticides alachlor and aldicarb were recommended by the Chemical Review Committee at its fourth meeting. Agreement to list a fourth chemical, chrysotile asbestos, eluded the conference for the third time since it was first recommended for listing by the treaty's Chemical Review Committee in 2002. Debate over the recommended listing of chrysotile asbestos drew widespread public attention throughout a week of sometimes tense negotiations between the Convention's parties.

Peter Kenmore, Executive Secretary, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said, "The robust participation of developing countries and countries with economies in transition in the work of the Rotterdam Convention has been on display this past week, as they increasingly are taking over the responsibility to assess the risk attached to hazardous chemicals and severely hazardous pesticide formulations. The failure to find consensus on one substance does not diminish this achievement." Over 500 participants, representing more than 135 governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations attended the fifth meeting of Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention.

    Access a release on the COP5 meeting (click here). Access the documents for the COP5 meeting (click here). Access complete background and details on the Rotterdam Convention website (click here). [*Toxics, *Haz] 
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