NSP - Pesticide bans

Pesticide Bans

In many countries, when a range of products has been banned or withdrawn for health or environmental reasons, the fate of existing stocks is often given scarce consideration. Stocks remain where they are stored and eventually deteriorate. Good practice in such cases requires pesticide regulatory authorities to allow a phase out period when products are banned or restricted so that existing stocks can be used up before the restriction is fully applied.

The ban on POPs pesticides

POPs stands for Persistent Organic Pollutants. POPs chemicals don't break down easily and can remain in the environment for a long time. Many of them evaporate in hot climates, travel through the atmosphere and settle in colder environments. They are also lipophylic meaning that they are soluble in fat. This means that they tend to accumulate in the body fat of animals in ever increasing quantities eventually leading to long term physiological effects such as infertility, cancer and hormonal disruption. Some of these effects can also be passed from one generation to another. As they move up through the food chain, POPs also become more concentrated. However, as the world became more aware of the dangers of POPs chemicals, these pesticides were banned from donor-funded locust campaigns in the late 1970s. Many POPs pesticides, dieldrin in particular, were widely used in campaigns to eradicate locusts in Africa.

When the POPs pesticides were banned, little thought was given to the fate of the remaining stock. It has become a major problem. Existing data indicate that more than 20 percent of obsolete pesticides stockpiles consist of POP pesticides. Some of the stockpiled pesticides are nearly 30 years old. They are poorly stored and are leaking into the environment and contaminating soil and water.

Also, because they are very persistent, POPs pesticides, such as dieldrin, can be effective for a long time. As a result, the pesticides are sometimes stolen and sold illegally. For more information on POPs pesticides see 'Organochlorines - the POPs pesticides'on the 'Obsolete Pesticides' page. 

Are banned pesticides being sold in developing countries?

There are many cases where highly hazardous pesticides, which are not permitted for use in industrialized countries, are exported to developing countries.

For a pesticide to be banned, it has to be registered first. Some pesticide companies have not registered or re-registered products which they knew would have not have been authorized in their own country but continue to produce and export the same products to developing countries There are also cases of pesticide manufacturers increasing exports of products that have been banned or restricted in their own countries, possibly in order to use up existing stocks or to compensate for depleted local markets.

Pesticide companies have also been able to circumvent bans on specific products by building formulation plants for the product in developing countries. They then supply the technical grade active ingredients needed to make the pesticide and claim that the product itself is locally manufactured.

The argument is put forward that developing countries are demanding these hazardous pesticides because less toxic products are often too expensive.

Banned POP pesticides sold on market in Lagos
Banned POP pesticides sold on market in Lagos