Participants are mainly from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and from the Asia-Pacific region.
They will share their experiences related to newly-listed pesticides under the Rotterdam Convention and alternatives to them, in particular for the widely used formulations of the herbicide paraquat, more commonly known as Gramoxone. The herbicide is considered highly dangerous and is banned in some countries.
The aim of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, is an international legally-binding instrument, and stipulates chemicals must be used only in an environmentally sound way to protect human health and the environment.
According to internationally accepted risk evaluations, paraquat is known to have life-threatening effects on the gastrointestinal tract, kidney, lungs and other organs. Chronic exposure can result in farmers losing their fingernails.
In 2012, chemical and pesticide experts under the Rotterdam Convention finalised a draft decision guidance document on paraquat dichloride.
However, the subsequent Conferences of Parties did not reach consensus to list the substance, and make it thus subject to a structured information exchange, due to objections from what was described as “a few parties.”
Pesticides can pose a serious risk to human health and the environment, including the fragile environments of many Pacific islands. In some countries, pesticides listed under the Rotterdam Convention cannot be managed safely under the conditions of use and countries are frequently asking for less hazardous alternatives to them.
Senior technical officer and coordinator of FAO’s Rotterdam Convention Secretariat, Dr Christine Fuell said they wanted to facilitate the exchange of information on newly listed and candidate pesticides in particular and to offer support in identifying and promoting sustainable alternatives, such as integrated pest management and non-chemical strategies as a means of reducing or eliminating the use of hazardous pesticides.
Cook Islands Ministry of Agriculture director of research and development division, William Wigmore said in the Pacific region they have found that paraquat was one of the most widely used agricultural chemicals.
He said the workshop would investigate safer alternative ways for farmers to manage weeds in the region.
Workshop participants will also visit a demonstration zucchini plot where the Ministry of Agriculture is using non-toxic mineral and neem oils to control white fly.
The activity is funded by the European Commission and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Implemented by the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat.
Among those attending will be designated national authorities to the Rotterdam Convention and government representatives from each of the party countries, along with representatives of governments from non-parties, academia, farmer organisations, civil society organisations and the FAO.
Agriculture minister Kiriau Turepu will officially open the event.
- Release/ LL