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Linking international conventions with pesticide risk reduction in the field

Endosulfan, a widely used broad spectrum organochlorine insecticide, has been listed by the Rotterdam Convention subject to the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure since 2011. It is also listed  by the Stockholm Convention as a persistent organic pollutant (POP) and targeted for global elimination. This resulted to the need of identifying alternatives to the use of endosulfan. The Rotterdam Convention Secretariat aims at bridging existing knowledge of the FAO and relevant NGOs to the Conventions community and promotes sustainable and environmentally sound alternative solutions, in particular IPM. Within this context, a number of activities have been carried out in cooperation with FAO teams, (sub)-regional offices, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and NGOs.

Global study on FAO’s experience in IPM as alternatives to endosulfan
A global study on FAO’s experience in IPM as alternatives to endosulfan has been undertaken. A call for information was sent to officers at the headquarters and (sub-) regional offices to collect relevant information. Additional research and interviews were undertaken to complement the information gaps and facilitate in-depth evaluation.

  • The study emphasises the basic principle of sustainable crop production intensification.
  • It introduces the basic approach of community IPM, which emphasis the development of sustainable management by a community of its agricultural and ecological resources. The aim is to grow healthy crops through good agronomic practice (like reduced or no insecticide use; regular field observations) and in depth understanding of the local specificity of agro-ecosystems (including insect population dynamics and natural enemies protection).
  • The study also presents a broad range of technical experience collected from FAO’s current and past IPM projects. It focuses on the crops and pests where exemptions for the use of endosulfan were made under the Stockholm Convention (coffee, cow peas, beans, tomato, okra, eggplant, onion, potato, chillies, apple, mango, maize, wheat, groundnuts, jute, tea, tobacco, and mustard).  The technical findings demonstrated the effectiveness of IPM and thus that crop protection without endosulfan is feasible.


Case study on growing coffee without endosulfan
Continued endosulfan usage through companies constitutes a non-compliance with major sustainability standards, including Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Certified and the 4C Code of Conduct, since these standards request suspension of use of substances listed under Conventions such as the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions and may lead to a withdrawal of sustainability licenses or certificates.
The project on growing coffee without endosulfan has been initiated early 2013 lead by Pesticide Action Network (PAN UK) with the support of the Rotterdam Convention  Secretariat. It includes the following activities:

  • Desk study: information on alternatives to control coffee berry borer collected, best practices identified
  • Field visits to Columbia, Nicaragua and El Salvador: alternative methodologies validated through interview with farmers that have successfully moved away from endosulfan
  • A video has been produced with the findings of the case studies, which can be used for training, awareness raising, by FFS and will be available for public access  on line, including YouTube.

Projects to strengthen capacity of countries to monitor and report human health incidents related to severely hazardous pesticide formulations in Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Nicaragua
Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Nicaragua are implementing capacity building projects to strengthen the capacity to monitor and report problems caused by severely hazardous pesticide formulations (SHPF). Since October 2013, Designated National Authorities are coordinating implementation of national work plans to implement the Rotterdam Convention, specifically covering capacity building activities to monitor and report SHPF, and identifying alternatives to endosulfan. Surveys on pesticide poisoning were already carried out in three countries, and reports presented describing the negative impacts of certain pesticides on human health and the environment. National authorities in each country have identified a number of pesticides that are causing severe health problems under normal conditions of use in the countries. More detailed information is being collected in order to broaden the basis for national regulatory actions, and to report such hazardous pesticides under Article 6 of the Rotterdam Convention to the Secretariat.

Technical assistance provided by the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention allowed national authorities in Nicaragua and El Salvador to set up a limited number of Farmer Field Schools to identify alternatives to endosulfan used to control the coffee berry borer. As a very encouraging result, use of Beauveria bassiana, a natural pathogen of the coffee berry borer, was field tested and promoted.

Since February 2013 a large number of capacity building activities were implemented in these countries, targeting audiences involved in the import, distribution and use of pesticides and surveillance of health impacts. Survey results indicated that health impacts are very severe, requiring immediate regulatory action. Several severely hazardous pesticide formulations were identified, requiring critical review and validation of the information.

Next Steps
The tools developed by the above mentioned projects will be integrated in the delivery of technical assistance to the parties of the Conventions and made available to other relevant FAO field activities. This is an example of linking international conventions with pesticide risk reduction in the field.

Awareness has risen in countries that have received limited technical assistance. The rapidly growing demand for further technical assistance requires preparation of project proposals for consideration by possible donors.

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