Pesticides, asbestos slated for trade controls
GENEVA - Potentially dangerous pesticides and asbestos are set to be subject to trade controls under a treaty which aims to protect workers in poor countries from hazardous exports, the United Nations said last week.
In a statement, the U.N. Environment Programme said that an experts\' committee had recommended three pesticides, including one widely used in Asia for insect control, and five forms of asbestos be added to a list of 31 chemicals whose import can be \"legitimately and unilaterally banned\".
The recommendation will go forward for adoption to a negotiating committee of the Rotterdam Convention when officials from 100 countries meet in Bonn from Sept 30-October 4, it said.
The 1998 treaty gives a country the right to prohibit import of chemicals or pesticides appearing on the agreed international list without risk of trade retaliation.
Some 1,500 new chemicals are introduced each year, joining 70,000 on the market, thus posing a challenge to monitor and manage potentially dangerous substances often already off the shelf in industrialised countries, according to UNEP.
\"Many pesticides that have been banned or whose use had been severely restricted in industrialised countries are still marketed and used in developing countries,\" it said.
\"The experts\' decision also reconfirms the right to make trade judgments on the basis of how a pesticide is actually used in the field, rather than on the basis of the manufacturer\'s instructions,\" it added.
Among insecticides proposed for trade controls is monocrotophos, widely used in Asia to control insects and spider mites on cotton, citrus, rice, maize and other crops, UNEP said.
Already banned in Australia and Hungary, it poses \"an acute hazard to hundreds of thousands of farm workers, particularly in developing countries where the lack of protective clothing and mechanical equipment makes it more likely that people will come in direct contact with chemicals\".
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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