Countries to Have Discretion Over Import of More Chemicals

GENEVA, Switzerland, February 21, 2002 (ENS) - Scientists have recommended adding a pesticide to a list of chemicals earmarked for global trade restrictions under the United Nations Rotterdam Convention. The national experts discussed further possible additions, including more pesticides and five types of asbestos.

At their Geneva session, the scientists agreed to apply the convention's "prior informed consent" (PIC) system to the organophosphate insecticide monocrotophos, giving countries the right to bar imports.

The decision to recommend monocrotophos was based on the "acute hazard" it poses to farmer workers in developing countries and "high toxicity" in birds and mammals, according to a statement issued today.

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Cambodians find one of many cast off illegal pesticide containers. Under the PIC system, countries can keep out chemicals on the Rotterdam Convention list. (Photo courtesy FAO)
Monocrotophos was developed by Ciba-Geigy, now Novartis, and first registered in 1965. It is a hazardous chemical used to control common mites, ticks and spiders and was especially designed for conditions of use in developing countries.

While mainly applied against cotton pests, monocrotophos is also used on citrus, olives, rice, maize, sorghum, sugar cane, sugar beets, peanuts, potatoes, soya beans, vegetables, ornamental shrubs and tobacco plants.

If convention parties approve the proposal - which is likely in September - then the prior informed consent list will grow to 32 chemicals.

Plans for further expansion of the PIC list, which will become fully operational once the convention enters into force, are already underway.

Meanwhile, chemical firms in the European Union have committed to applying PIC procedures immediately.

The five forms of asbestos not yet included in the PIC list were reviewed in Geneva. A recommendation on them is expected next year.

At the request of Senegal, a review is also being conducted of Granox TBC and Spinox T, both of which are mixtures of fungicides and an insecticide called Carbofuran. Senegal's request relates to the chemicals' implication in hundreds of thousands of instances of illness in farm workers and some deaths.

Finally, experts are examining whether Dinitro-o-cresol (DNOC) - used as an insecticide, weed killer and fungicide - should also be added to the PIC list. DNOC is extremely toxic to humans causing damage to the liver, kidney, and nervous system. Bans in the European Union and Peru have triggered investigations into the chemical.

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