FAO to seek EU aid to remove pesticide waste
ROME - The United Nations and industry officials on Friday urged the European Union to provide financial support for the disposal of pesticide waste in developing nations.
A statement issued after a meeting in Rome, held under the auspices of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), "called upon FAO to re-approach the EU for support in prevention and disposal of obsolete pesticides".
The meeting was attended by representatives of the pesticides industry, FAO officials and delegates from some EU governments.
FAO said this week that more than 500,000 tonnes of ageing pesticide waste seriously threatened the health of millions of people and the environment in nearly all developing countries.
The pesticide waste had accumulated over more than 30 years and products were being added continuously, FAO said.
The waste sites contained some of the most dangerous pesticides like the Persistent Organic Pollutants aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin and heptachlor, which have been banned in most countries, and organophosphates.
In the statement, the Rome meeting on Friday said industry should take back unused pecticides stored at sites around the developing world.
The statement "urged that return to vendor strategies for the management of unused pesticides...should be considered".
FAOs expert on the problem of toxic pesticide waste, Alemayehu Wodageneh, told Reuters after the meeting that contaminated containers needed to be removed from many sites.
The Global Crop Protection Federation (GCPF), which took part in the meeting, is an umbrella organisation for leading pesticide producers.
GCPFs members include Aventis CropScience, BASF , Bayer , Dow AgroSciences , DuPont, Monsanto , Sumitomo and Syngenta .
The statement appeared to mark a turnaround by GCPF, which had previously objected to taking back unused pesticides, saying it would be far better to use them against unwanted insects such as locusts.
Pesticides usually have an expiry date of two years after manufacture.
GCPF expressed willingness this week to contribute financially to the removal of pesticide waste once it has been able to identify stocks supplied by its member companies.
TOXIC WASTE IN ETHIOPIA
Last month FAO officials, accompanied by a Reuters correspondent, visited Ethiopia, where they found metal drums leaking toxic waste at obsolete pesticide dumps located in residential areas.
Ethiopian and FAO officials said the build-up, dating back 30 or more years, was due to bad management of pesticide deliveries by the government and donors, and unscrupulous marketing by the chemicals industry of pesticides that often were not needed.
A clean-up operation by a Finnish hazardous waste treatment company Ekokem began last month in Ethiopia, where FAO estimates that almost 3,000 tonnes of obsolete pesticide waste stored at nearly 1,000 sites have accumulated.
Donations by the U.S., Dutch and Swedish governments are enough to dispose of 1,500 tonnes, but there have been no pledges so far to cover the removal of the remainder.
Story by David Brough
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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