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Press Release 99/45 Joint FAO/UNEP

FAO/UNEP INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE MAKES A RAPID START IN IMPLEMENTING THE ROTTERDAM CONVENTION ON TRADE IN DANGEROUS CHEMICALS

TWO NEW SUBSTANCES HAVE BEEN INCLUDED TO THE PRIOR INFORMED CONSENT PROCEDURE


Rome, 18 July 1999.- Delegates from more than 100 countries made a rapid start in implementing the Rotterdam Convention on trade in dangerous chemicals, thereby underlining the urgent need to protect health and environment in developing countries, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today.

The international conference on the Rotterdam Convention held at FAO headquarters this week agreed to include two new dangerous chemicals -- binapacryl and toxaphene -- into the prior informed consent (PIC) procedure.

The conference established an Interim Chemical Review Committee (ICRC) to recommend on the inclusion of banned and severely restricted chemicals or hazardous pesticides formulations in PIC procedure. One of the first tasks of the ICRC will be to make recommendations on four other harmful chemicals which the conference referred to it, i.e. bromacil, ethylene dichloride, ethylene oxide and maleic hydrazide.

Binapacryl is a pesticide used as a fungicide and miticide. It can provoke headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea and breathing difficulties when used by agricultural workers. It also has harmful effects on the environment and may significantly bioconcentrate in fish and aquatic organisms.

Toxaphene is an insecticide with stomach and contact action and a rodenticide acting as stomach poison. It is very resistant to degradation and is transported around the world in the environment. When absorbed it is rapidly distributed to all organs of the body and tends to concentrate in fatty tissues and muscle. It is highly toxic and can cause thyroid tumors and cancer. It has also toxic effects on the environment including on soils, birds, fish and aquatic invertebrates.

Adopted in September 1998, the Rotterdam Convention has been signed so far by 60 States and one Regional Economic Integration Organization. It will enter into force once it has been ratified by at least 50 countries.

Commenting on the Rotterdam Convention, Mr. James Willis, Director UNEP Chemicals, said "this is the first multilateral environmental agreement since 1994 and it was adopted two years in advance of the goals set in chapter 19 of Agenda 21. It offers greater protection to health and the environment - particularly in developing countries and countries with economies in transition - than the previous voluntary procedure."

The PIC procedure requires that certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides, which have been banned or severely restricted, as well as severely hazardous pesticide formulations, are not exported unless explicitely agreed by the importing country.

It also requires that countries take decisions on future imports of certain hazardous pesticides formulations. "Many farmers in developing countries cannot handle highly toxic pesticides safely and this Convention will help to protect them,"said Mr. Niek Van Der Graaf, Chief of FAO's Plant Protection Service.

A large number of countries participating in the FAO/UNEP international conference stressed the need for technical and financial assistance for the implementation of the PIC procedure for developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

The interim Secretariat of the Convention is provided by FAO and UNEP working in close cooperation. This is a unique arrangement, which draws upon the strength of FAO in the field of pesticides management and UNEP in the field of chemicals management.

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* For further information, please call FAO Media Relations Office (tel.: 0039.06.57053276, portable 0039 (0) 3482341145) or consult the website: http://www.pic.int

INCLUSION OF BANNED AND SEVERELY RESTRICTED CHEMICALS OR HAZARDOUS PESTCIDES FORMULATIONS

You can listen/download the sound of an interview by L. Kambirigi with Ms. Maria Celina de Azevedo Rodriguez, Chairperson of the FAO/UNEP International Conference on the Rotterdam Convention and the Prior Informed Consent procedure (PIC), on the outcome of the Rome Conference, 12-16 July 99.
(3minutes)

In RealAudio (370Kb) :
ftp://ext-ftp.fao.org/Radio/RealAudio/PIC-Rodriguez-eng.rm

In Mp3( 1,410Kb):
ftp://ext-ftp.fao.org/Radio/Mp3/PIC-Rodriguez-eng.mp3

NB:

1/ To listen a mp3 Sound file, you need an mp3 player,Quicktime 4.0, RealJukebox player or Windows Media Player, all free available on the Web)

2/To listen a RealAudio Sound file , you need Realplayer G2(free on the Web): Instant play but lower quality than mp3


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