UN agencies launch new guide to control use of hazardous pesticides

May 12, 2016 6:23 am 

UNITED NATIONS, May 11 — The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have released new guidelines to reduce the damage done by pesticides, a UN spokesman said here Tuesday.

"In industrialized countries, highly hazardous pesticides (HPPs) may be no longer permitted or subject to strict use limitations, but they often remain widely available in developing countries," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here.

"Even hazardous products that still are permitted can cause severe problems as small-scale farmers in developing countries often do not have, or use, the necessary protective gear, using back-pack sprayers that pose high risk of exposure," he said.

Restriction on the use of such highly hazardous products often prove hard to enforce, leading to widespread use by untrained persons, the two UN agencies said in a press release, adding that high numbers of poisoning cases, contaminated food and environmental damage can be the result.

A relatively small group of highly hazardous pesticides is often the cause of the majority of poisoning cases, said the press release.

In many cases, these can be replaced by less hazardous products or, even better integrated pest management (IPM) approaches that aim at reducing reliance on pesticides.

The guidelines offer a road map to help countries identify and deal with highly hazardous pesticides. This involves inventory taking, assessing risks and actual needs, and then taking appropriate risk mitigation measures. In many cases, this will be phasing out of the product, but in cases where there are no good alternatives, other risk mitigation actions may be considered.

The local conditions of use and feasibility of control measures should be an important factor in decision taking.

FAO has also launched a Pesticide Registration Toolkit to assist governments in conducting hazard and risk assessments as part of their national pesticide approval process. This toolkit can also be used to re-assess products that have been approved in the past, but are now identified as highly hazardous.

The push for improved governance of pesticides accelerated last year when the SAICM International Conference on Chemicals Management adopted a resolution calling for concerted action to address HHPs. The Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization now provide the guidance to move forward on this.

Governments are encouraged to use the new guidelines and the toolkit to review their existing lists of approved pesticides in order to identify HHPs and take the necessary measures to reduce the risks to users, consumers and the environment. This also implies the strengthening of IPM as a recognized pillar in the design of sustainable crop protection systems. (PNA/Xinhua)

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