27 November 2003, Rome/Geneva --
Armenia has become the 50th country to ratify the Rotterdam
Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for
Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International
Trade, triggering the 90-day countdown to the treaty's
entry into force.
"Thanks to the
Rotterdam Convention, we now have an effective system in place
for avoiding many of the deadly mistakes made in past decades
when people were less aware of the dangers of toxic
chemicals," said Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of
the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
"This new regime offers its member
governments, particularly in developing countries, the tools
they need to protect their citizens, clean up obsolete
stockpiles of pesticides and strengthen their chemicals
management. Governments need to become members as quickly as
possible so that they can reap these benefits and participate in
shaping key decisions that must be taken next year", he
Reducing the risks
associated with pesticides
"Inappropriate pesticides and their misuse
still threaten health and environment in developing
countries" said Jacques Diouf, Director-General, UN
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
"We recognize that, in meeting the increased
demand for food production, pesticides will continue to be used.
The Rotterdam Convention provides countries with a major tool to
reduce the risks associated with pesticide use," he
"Implementation of the
Convention will help countries to control the availability of
pesticides that are recognized to be harmful to human health and
the environment and of highly toxic pesticides that cannot be
handled safely by small farmers in developing countries. The
treaty promotes sustainable agriculture in a safer environment,
thereby contributing to an increase in agricultural production
and supporting the battle against hunger, disease and
poverty," Dr. Diouf said.
A first line of defence
Jointly supported by FAO and UNEP, the Rotterdam
Convention establishes a first line of defence against future
tragedies that may be caused by hazardous chemicals.
The Convention enables importing countries to decide
which potentially hazardous chemicals they want to receive and
to exclude those they cannot manage safely. Most of the Parties
of the Rotterdam Convention, so far, are developing countries.
When trade is permitted, requirements for
labelling and providing information on potential health and
environmental effects will promote safer use of chemicals.
The Convention starts with 27 chemicals but
five more pesticides have already been flagged for inclusion,
and many more substances are likely to be added in the
Some pesticides covered by the
Convention, such as monocrotophos and parathion are extremely
hazardous and can present a severe threat to the health of
farmers in developing countries.
meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention
will take place in Geneva in late 2004.
its first meeting the COP will decide on including chemicals in
the Convention that have been added during the past several
years to the interim PIC procedure, establish a Chemical Review
Committee that will evaluate future chemicals for the
Convention's list, adopt the rules of procedure and address
issues such as dispute settlement, compliance, financial rules,
and arrangements for the permanent Secretariat.
The pesticide market
Some 70,000 different chemicals are available on the
market today, and around 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
Many pesticides that have been
banned or whose use has been severely restricted in
industrialized countries are still marketed and used in
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.
Since September 1998 five additional pesticides (binapacryl,
toxaphene, ethylene oxide, ethylene dichloride and
monocrotophos) have been added to the interim PIC procedure.
It also covers five industrial
chemicals: crocidolite, polybrominated biphenyls
(PBB), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), polychlorinated
terphenyls (PCT) and tris (2,3 dibromopropyl)
Information Officer, FAO
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cell. (+41) 79 409