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Press Release 99/43 Joint FAO/UNEP


Rome, 12 July - More than 100 countries are participating in an international conference to jump-start the new Convention on trade in dangerous chemicals, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today. The meeting (*) will be held at FAO Headquarters, 12-16 July.

Among the issues the meeting will discuss is a mechanism for including new chemicals to the treaty (by establishing a Chemicals Review Committee and agreeing to PIC regions) and agreeing on technical and financial assistance necessary for the implementation of the Convention

The meeting will also decide on the possible inclusion of six hazardous pesticides in an existing watch list so that trade in these chemicals can be better monitored and eventually curbed. The watch list is part of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.

The list already covers 5 industrial chemicals and 22 pesticides. The six new pesticides to be reviewed are binapacryl, bromacil, ethylene dichloride, ethylene oxide, maleic hydrazide and toxaphene. These chemicals may still be produced and traded although they may cause serious health or environmental problems.

The Rotterdam Convention was adopted in September 1998 and has been signed so far by 60 States and one Regional Economic Integration Organization. Once the treaty has been ratified by 50 countries, it will enter into force. However, states have agreed to implement the treaty on a voluntary basis until it enters into force, to safeguard human health and the environment from the harmful effects of these chemicals already from the treaty's adoption.

The Rotterdam Convention will protect human health and the environment in developing countries where there may be unacceptable exposure to pesticides and industrial chemicals. It requires that certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides, which have been banned or severely restricted in at least two countries in two different regions of the world are not exported unless explicitly agreed by the importing country. The treaty also includes pesticide formulations that may be too dangerous to be used safely by farmers in developing countries. If a country prohibits imports of a hazardous compound it is also obliged to prohibit national production of the compounds for national consumption.

The global market for pesticides continues to grow and is estimated at more than $33 billion in 1998. The fastest growing markets are in the developing world.

(*) "6th Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for an Internationally Legally Binding Instrument for the Application of the PIC Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade"

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