PR 97/57

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Press Release 97/57

CONVENTION ON HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS “WITHIN REACH”


Rome, 24 October - The latest conference aimed at concluding a convention on international trade in extremely hazardous chemicals and pesticides ended on Friday. The final intergovernmental meeting is expected to take place in Brussels in January.

“After the success we achieved here in Rome a legally binding convention on hazardous chemicals and pesticides is within reach. For the remaining issues to be resolved we need to concentrate on finding compromises to finalise an agreement. The convention will help to reduce hazards of chemicals and pesticides to health and the environment,” said Chairperson Maria Celina de Azevedo Rodrigues.

A legally binding convention should help to manage more safely and ultimately contain the trade in chemicals and pesticides such as PCBs, Lindane, Aldrin, Dieldrin and other highly harmful pesticides such as Monocrotophos and Parathion. The trade in extremely hazardous chemicals and pesticides is currently regulated through the voluntary Prior Informed Consent procedure (PIC) in which 154 countries are participating. According to the voluntary PIC, 22 harmful pesticides and five industrial chemicals which have been banned or severely restricted in a number of countries should not be exported without the prior agreement of the importing country.

Countries have now agreed that the substances subject to the voluntary PIC will also be added to the convention. Exports of hazardous substances which are nationally banned or severly restricted must be notified in future. The conference also suggested a procedure for developing countries to add more dangerous pesticide formulations causing health problems under conditions of use to the PIC-list. It is therefore expected that more industrial chemicals and pesticides will be added to the PIC-list.

Many developing countries have reported acute poisoning and even fatalities among farmers because pesticides are not being handled safely. Protective gear is too expensive and in many cases cannot be used under the climatic conditions in these countries.

The industrialised countries expressed their willingness to provide technical assistance to developing countries to strengthen their capacity for the implementation of the convention.

The meeting, attended by more than 250 delegates from about 100 countries was jointly organised by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).


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