October 13, 1997
Five New Pesticides Added to PIC
In September 1997, five extremely hazardous pesticides were
added to the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC), an
international voluntary agreement on pesticide trade which is
jointly administered by the UN Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Certain highly concentrated formulations of five pesticides
known as organophosphates -- methamidophos, methyl parathion,
monocrotophos, parathion and phosphamidon -- join 17
pesticides and five industrial chemicals that are already
part of the PIC procedure. Chemicals listed under the
procedure should not be exported without the agreement of the
The specific formulations of the newly-listed pesticides may
not necessarily be banned or severely restricted in any
country, but have been included because of potential problems
under conditions of use in developing countries. The five
pesticides listed are all classified by the World Health
Organization as extremely or highly hazardous, based on the
concentration of the active ingredient and the formulations.
"These pesticide formulations pose a considerable risk to the
health of many small farmers and agricultural workers because
they cannot be handled safely. In developing countries,
protective gear is often too expensive, or if available,
cannot be used due to the climate," said Niek Van der Graaff,
Chief of the FAO Plant Protection Service.
Studies on the application of organophosphates have
demonstrated that during normal spraying farmers are exposed
to contamination by absorption through the skin of residues
on clothing. In China alone, 27 provinces in 1995 reported a
total of 48,377 poisoning cases, including 3,204 fatalities.
More than 7,500 of these cases were attributed to normal
agricultural use of parathion and methamidophos. In addition,
studies have shown that there are many unreported pesticide
poisoning cases in rural areas of developing countries.
Poisoning from parathion occurs even in industrialized
countries despite stringent protection. Worldwide, there are
more reported cases of pesticide poisoning with parathion
than with any other pesticide currently in use.
About the PIC procedure
Through the FAO/UNEP PIC Secretariat, importing countries
receive information about the characteristics of these
hazardous chemicals, including in which participating
countries they have been severely restricted or banned.
Authorities then decide if they will allow these toxic
substances to enter their country. Exporting countries will
be notified which chemicals will no longer be accepted by
each importing country. The exporting countries are then
expected to work with their chemical industry to ensure that
exports do not take place contrary to the decision of the
importing country. Currently, 154 countries are participating
in the voluntary PIC procedure.
Negotiations are currently underway to change the voluntary
PIC procedure into a legally binding convention. The next
round of intergovernmental negotiations will take place at
FAO Headquarters in Rome, from October 20-24, 1997.
Source: FAO press release, September 23, 1997.
Contacts: Erwin Northoff, FAO, Plant Production and
Protection Division, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla,
00100 Rome, Italy; phone (39-6) 570 53105; fax (39-6) 570
56347; email Erwin.Northoff@fao.org.
Jim Willis, UNEP Chemicals, IRPTC, Case postale 356, 15,
Chemin des Anemones, CH-1219 Chatelaine, Geneva, Switzerland;
phone (41-22) 979 9183; fax (41-22) 797 3460; email
For more information about PIC, visit the FAO PIC home page
pichome.htm or the UNEP PIC web page at
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