Kit de Herramientas para el Registro de Plaguicidas

Principles in identifying alternatives

While different alternatives may be identified to replace a highly hazardous pesticide (HHPs), several principles underlie the selection process.

Identifying alternatives to HHPs:

  • starts with a good understanding of the pest problem. The need to register new pesticide active ingredients, pesticide products or specific pesticide uses, including low-risk or biological products, should always be assessed for the specific pest problem and within an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) or Integrated Vector Management (IVM) approach;
  • is not the mere replacement of a hazardous pesticide (or a class of pesticides) with another, less hazardous product. A limitation of the product replacement approach is that it can lead to “regrettable substitution”; this can happen when one pesticide is banned, only to be replaced with another pesticide that turned out to be just as harmful or potentially worse. The focus of the identification process should therefore be on providing pest management solutions rather than simply providing alternative products.
  • takes into consideration all different categories of alternatives, ranging from cultural practices to biocontrol.
  • Should lead to a rapid reduction of risks. The process of identification and implementation of low risk alternatives should be rapid, because HHPs are likely to pose immediate risks to human health or the environment. It may sometimes be in the interest of human and environmental health to swiftly reduce risks with an intermediate alternative, while a more ideal substitute is being researched or developed. Hence, “the perfect should not be the enemy of the good”.
  • is a multi-stakeholder, consultative process aimed at improving the overall crop performance and pest management strategy and it therefore involves several stakeholders beyond pesticide regulatory authorities, including farmers, researchers, extension officers, agrochemical industry, finance providers and civil society.

Finding viable alternatives to highly hazardous pesticides can be a relatively fast process, but it may also require several months or years, depending on factors such as the extent to which the pesticide is in use, the complexity of the pest problem(s), the availability of effective alternatives, socio-economic factors, but also political will, openness to changes, resources and technical capacity available in the country.

Regional collaboration may be very effective, since it allows for the sharing of experiences in managing specific pests, pooling of expertise on alternatives and combining resources to conduct additional studies. Regional collaboration is particularly relevant whenever neighbouring countries (intend to) restrict or phase out the use of the same HHP.