2015 Rotterdam Convention still failed to reach consensus on listing paraquat

Source: Agropages

The twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Basel Convention (BC), seventh meeting of the COP to the Rotterdam Convention (RC), and seventh meeting of the COP to the Stockholm Convention (SC) convened in Geneva, Switzerland from May 4 to May 15, 2015. 

The Geneva meeting did manage to add the insecticide methamidophos to the list, according to conference organisers, but failed to list a range of other chemicals, including the pesticide paraquat, which studies have linked to Parkinson's disease. The question of whether or not to list paraquat and the other chemicals where consensus was not reached will likely be raised again at the next conference on the Rotterdam Convention in 2017. 

On 5 May, Clayton Campanhola, FAO, RC Co-Executive Secretary, underscored the importance of listing methamidophos, trichlorfon, as well as the severely hazardous pesticide formulations, fenthion and paraquat dichloride under the RC. Noting that chrysotile asbestos would be considered for a fifth time, he underscored that listing a chemical under the RC does not constitute a trade ban.

On 6 May, the UN Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council on Human Rights Implications of Hazardous Wastes, said it is “legally and morally unjustifiable for countries to obstruct listing paraquat under the RC.”

On 13 May, the Secretariat introduced the documents (UNEP/FAO/RC/COP.7/10 and Add.1) on the inclusion in Annex III of liquid formulations (emulsifiable concentrate and soluble concentrate) containing paraquat dichloride at or above 276 g/L, and its consideration as a severely hazardous pesticide formulation (SHPF). President Khashashneh reminded delegates that COP6 had determined that paraquat met the listing criteria, so only the decision to list remained.

The AFRICAN GROUP, the EU, PANAMA, NORWAY, INDONESIA, JAMAICA, SWITZERLAND, SERBIA, the COOK ISLANDS, URUGUAY, BRAZIL, UKRAINE and MALAYSIA supported listing, while GUATEMALA opposed. When INDIA questioned whether paraquat met the listing criteria, President Khashashneh asked the Secretariat to read the portion of COP decision 6/8, which states that the requirements for listing have been met.

Emphasizing that workers often do not have a choice regarding what pesticides they apply, the INTERNATIONAL UNION OF FOOD WORKERS urged parties to list the paraquat formulation under Annex III to protect the health and safety of farm workers.

A contact group, co-chaired by David Kapindula (Zambia) and Björn Hansen (EU), was established to discuss trichlorfon, fenthion and paraquat. The group was tasked by President Khashashneh to verify whether listing requirements were satisfied for the first two, and to discuss listing for all three.

The group of LISTING OF CHEMICALS UNDER THE RC met in the afternoon of 13 May. Throughout, several parties stressed that listing under the RC does not constitute a ban, but rather provides information to countries that may wish to use the chemical. On paraquat, many supported listing and three developing countries opposed. Several developing countries said that they use paraquat and supported listing. The Co-Chairs said they will meet with the RC President and requested those opposed to listing to register their concerns with the Secretariat.

On 14 May, the group of RC LISTING OF CHEMICALS reviewed each objection raised by particular parties to the listing of trichlorfon, fenthion and paraquat. On paraquat, two developing countries did not agree that listing requirements had been met, despite detailed explanations by CRC members about their work.