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Press Release 01/67 Joint UNEP/FAO

PROGRESS MADE TOWARDS REDUCING RISKS OF PESTICIDES AND INDUSTRIAL CHEMICALS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES


Rome, 11 October 2001 - Officials from over 100 governments are meeting here this week (8-12 October 2001) to prepare for the entry into force of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC) for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade and to oversee the implementation of the voluntary interim PIC procedure.

The Rotterdam Convention contributes to the reduction of the risks associated with the use of chemicals, particularly in developing countries, and limits the introduction of hazardous chemicals and pesticides into countries that cannot safely manage them.

Adopted in 1998 under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Rotterdam Convention uses the PIC procedure to help governments decide whether to accept or refuse the imports of certain hazardous chemicals. Countries that export such chemicals will have to respect the decisions of importing parties.

The Rotterdam Convention has an essential role in promoting the life cycle management of chemicals and pesticides, according to Mr. Shafqat Kakakhel, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP. It is a crucial complement to the Basel Convention on hazardous wastes and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants as well as to the FAO International Code of Conduct on the distribution and Use of Pesticides and programmes on health and occupational impacts, such as those carried out by WHO and ILO.

Mr. Kakakhel noted that implemented cooperatively, these conventions and programmes can provide a comprehensive and systematic approach to managing chemical hazards.

Mr. David Harcharik, Deputy Director-General of FAO, underlined that "global agreements such as the Rotterdam Convention serve to provide a level of control and can help to mitigate the negative effects of globalization." Mr. Harcharik also urged countries to work towards ratification of the Rotterdam Convention in time for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2002.

Pending the entry into force of the Rotterdam Convention, governments have agreed to apply the PIC procedure on a voluntary basis. The processes developed are operational, with three additional chemicals and two severely hazardous pesticide formulations identified as candidates for inclusion in the interim PIC procedure. The two pesticide formulations were nominated by Senegal under article 6 of the Convention based on problems under conditions of use in their country. These are the first such formulations to be nominated during the interim PIC procedure.

The Rotterdam Convention was adopted and signed by Ministers and senior officials on 11 September 1998 in Rotterdam. It has received 73 signatures and has thus far been ratified by 16 governments; it will enter into force 90 days after the 50th ratification.

Some 70,000 different chemicals are available on the market, and 1,500 new ones are introduced every year. This poses a major challenge to many governments who must attempt to monitor and manage these potentially dangerous substances. Many pesticides that have been banned or whose use has been severely restricted in industrialized countries are still marketed and used in developing countries.

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For further information, contact Michael Williams of UNEP in Geneva at
(+41 22) 9178 242/244/196, fax 797 3460, e-mail michael.williams@unep.ch, or contact FAO media relations office in Rome at (+39 06) 5705 3625. Official documents and other information can be found on the Internet at  http://www.pic.int.

The Rotterdam Convention covers the following 22 hazardous pesticides: 2,4,5-T, aldrin, captafol, chlordane, chlordimeform, chlorobenzilate, DDT, 1,2-dibromoethane (EDB), dieldrin, dinoseb, fluoroacetamide, HCH, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, lindane, mercury compounds, and pentachlorophenol, plus certain formulations of methamidophos, methyl-parathion, monocrotophos, parathion, and phosphamidon.


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