Paraquat at the Rotterdam Convention

Paraquat can be traded internationally without Prior Informed Consent under the Rotterdam ConventionThe Chemical Review Committee (CRC) of the Rotterdam Convention1 reviewed the amended notification from Sweden at its meeting in Geneva in March 2010. The Committee agreed that the notification did not meet the specified requirements. Accordingly, and as earlier notifications from other countries did not meet the criteria either, paraquat as a substance was not put forward in the process to include it in the list of chemicals subject to the Prior Informed Consent procedure (PIC). A proposal from Burkina Faso to list Gramoxone® Super as a Severely Hazardous Pesticide Formulation (SHPF) was reviewed by the CRC at its meeting in March 2011. The CRC concluded that the relatively soft criteria for a SHPF were met and recommended the PIC listing of formulations of type EC and SL containing paraquat ion at or greater than 200 g/L.  The Conference of the Parties (COP) at its 6th meeting in March/April 2013 and 7th meeting in May 2015 could not reach consensus on the listing recommendation and, as it always does in such situations, deferred the listing decision to the next meeting which will be held in 2017. Some delegations raised strong concerns due to lack of alternatives, costs and potential implications on trade. It was also said that the situation of paraquat in Burkina Faso was an isolated case and not typical. Syngenta does not agree with the listing recommendation as the underlying information from Burkina Faso, a retrospective survey on poisoning incidents, did not demonstrate that the definition of a SHPF according to the Convention text was met. The CRC did not seriously discuss that fact. In addition, the robustness of the data was doubtful, the significance of the number of incidents in relation to the volume sold was not demonstrated, and the applicability of the Rotterdam Convention on illegal trade was left open. In this context, a non-Party and CropLife International suggested to the COP at its meeting in 2013 to develop further guidance on the review of SHPF listing proposals and incident surveys.  CropLife International re-iterated this suggestion at the COP in 2015 in context with another SHPF listing recommendation. The Rotterdam Convention was drawn-up by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with the aim of promoting shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties (nations which ratified the Convention) in the international trade of certain types of chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment2. Parties to the Rotterdam Convention are obliged to notify the Secretariat of any final regulatory action to ban or severely restrict pesticides or industrial chemicals in order to protect human health or the environment. If at least two notifications from at least two PIC regions meet all required criteria, the Chemical Review Committee recommends to the Conference of the Parties (COP) to make the chemical subject to the legally-binding Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure and the Committee prepares a 'Decision Guidance Document'. The decision to PIC list a chemical is eventually taken by the COP by consensus. Likewise, a country with an economy in development or transition can propose to list a formulation, with which it experiences problems, as a severely hazardous pesticide formulation. Parties to the Convention must decide and communicate to the Secretariat whether they will allow or restrict imports of PIC listed chemicals in future. Parties must then ensure that their exporters comply with those decisions. Paraquat as a substance or in a formulation (SHPF) is currently not included in the PIC list3.

References

  1. The Rotterdam Convention website 
  2. Text of the Rotterdam Convention 
  3. The PIC list of chemicals can be found at http://www.pic.int/home.php?type=t&id=29&sid=30