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Rotterdam Convention to Include Endosulfan & Chrysotile in its PIC List?

Written By Gopal Krishna on Sunday, April 10, 2011 | 7:09 AM

Fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (COP-5)
will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 20 – 24 June 2011. The text of the Convention was adopted on 10th September 1998 by a Conference of Plenipotentiaries in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The Convention entered into force on 24th February 2004.

The chemicals on the Rotterdam Convention’s PIC list includes the following 29 hazardous pesticides: 2,4,5-T, aldrin, binapacryl, captafol, chlordane, chlordimeform, chlorobenzilate, DDT, DNOC and its salts, ethylene dichloride, ethylene oxide 1,2-dibromoethane (EDB), dieldrin, dinoseb, fluoroacetamide, HCH, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, lindane, mercury compounds, monocrotophos, parathion, pentachlorophenol, toxaphene and tributyl tin, plus certain formulations of methamidophos, methyl-parathion, and phosphamidon, as well as dustable-powder formulations containing a combination of benomyl at or above 7 per cent, carbofuran at or above 10 per cent and thiram at or above 15 per cent that are listed as severely hazardous pesticide formulations.

The Convention also covers eleven industrial chemicals: five forms of asbestos (actinolite, anthophyllite, amosite, crocidolite and tremolite), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), polychlorinated terphenyls (PCT) tetraethyl lead, tetramethyl lead and tris (2,3 dibromopropyl) phosphate. Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) has been advocating relentlessly for the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list which is facing resistance from countries like Russia, Canada and India although Chemical Review Committee has recommended its inclusion in the list.  

On April 1, 2011, after the conclusion of the seventh meeting of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC 7) held in Rome, Italy during 28 March - 1 April 2011, the UN chemical experts recommended that two pesticides – endosulfan and azinphos methyl – and one severely hazardous pesticide formulation – Gramoxone Super – be included in the Rotterdam Convention’s Prior Informed Consent procedure. Three industrial chemicals – perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), its salts and precursors; pentaBDE commercial mixtures; and octaBDE commercial mixtures – were also recommended for inclusion. ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) supports CRC's recommendations and urges Government of India to pay heed to the recommendations of CRC in the interest of the public health of Indian citizens of present and future generations.

The Convention’s Chemical Review Committee based its recommendation on a review of national regulatory actions taken by Benin, Canada, European Union, Japan, New Zealand, and Norway to ban or restrict the use of chemicals that pose an unacceptable risk to human health and the environment.

“For the first time since the Convention entered into force in 2004, the Committee has recommended adding a severely hazardous pesticide formulation to the Watch List, advancing our Parties’ efforts to ensure that countries’ rights to know and trade chemicals safely are respected,” said FAO’s Peter Kenmore, Co-Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention.

Gramoxone Super is an herbicide containing paraquat dichloride, which is used to control weeds in cotton, rice and maize. Burkina Faso had proposed to include Gramoxone Super as a severely hazardous pesticide formulation (SHPF) into Annex 2 III of the Convention due to the problems experienced caused by this pesticide formulation under conditions of use in its territory.

PentaBDE and octaBDE commercial mixtures are brominated flame retardants. Due to their toxicity and persistence, their industrial production is set to be eliminated under the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The Fifth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention will be held during 25-29 April 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland. Its theme is: Chemical Challenges, Sustainable Solutions. The Convention was adopted on 22nd May 2001. It entered into force on 17th May 2004. TWA expresses support for its elimination.

“The recommendation to include these three industrial chemicals marks an acceleration in the rate of submission of industrial chemicals to the CRC for review of these substances known to harm human health and the environment. This is, as a result, in part, through the cooperative exchange of information from our sister scientific review committee under the Stockholm Convention,” said Donald Cooper, Co-Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention.

The recommendations will be forwarded to the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention in June 2011.

Jointly supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Rotterdam Convention prevents unwanted trade in the chemicals included in its legally binding prior informed consent (PIC) procedure.

The Rotterdam Convention does not introduce bans but fosters information exchange mechanisms to help improve decision making about the trade of hazardous chemicals. It enables member Governments to alert each other to potential dangers by exchanging information on chemicals and to take informed
decisions with regard to whether they want to import such chemicals in the future.

The Convention makes the international trade in hazardous chemicals more transparent and less vulnerable to abuse through its export notification provisions and by encouraging harmonized labeling of chemicals. Exporting member Governments are responsible for ensuring that no exports leave their territory when an importing country has made the decision not to accept a PIC chemical.
Rotterdam Convention helps member Governments to improve their national capacity for chemicals management, and to protect human health and the environment. It also encourages all stakeholders to identify and promote safer alternatives.
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