Negotiators agree proposals to eliminate 10 POPs, but exempt DDT for malaria control

In the third round of talks on a global treaty, held from 6-11 September 1999 in Geneva, negotiators reached agreement on proposals favouring the elimination of 10 intentionally produced persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the mandate for a treaty from the Governing Council of UNEP, but recognised a "public health need for an exemption for DDT.


The proposals now go to participating countries for consultation, followed by consideration at the fourth round of negotiations, set for 20-25 March 2000 in Bonn. One hundred and fifteen countries participated in the talks in Geneva, working with 17 intergovernmental and 72 non-governmental organisations.

Three of the 12 POPs in the UNEP mandate are slated for elimination with no exemptions. These are the pesticides aldrin, endrin and toxaphene. Another five POPs are set for elimination, with limited country-specific exemptions. These are the pesticides chlordane, dieldrin, heptachlor, mirex, and hexachlorobenzene, which also an industrial compound and a by-product. With the exception of the exemptions, elimination would take place once the treaty enters into force. While production and use of DDT would be limited to control of vectors, such as mosquitos transmitting malaria, for public health purposes, all other uses, including in agriculture, would be prohibited.
Proposals under discussion suggest continuous review, in consultation with WHO, of the need for DDT in vector control; the availability of safer, effective, and affordable alternative approaches to DDT; and the capacity of countries to pursue such alternative control strategies, with the ultimate goal of elimination.

New use and production of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) would be prohibited, under policy proposals developed by negotiators. Discussion focused on the issue of PCBs already in use, principally in electrical equipment, and the related complexity of identifying existing applications and dealing with replacement costs, particularly in developing countries.

There was agreement on a procedure for adding chemicals to the convention. With the exception a few remaining issues, the meeting also agreed on scientific criteria and data requirements for screening and evaluation.

The talks moved towards a consensus on the unintentionally produced by-products dioxins and furans. They also laid the groundwork for further consideration of proposals to advance technical and financial assistance, particularly for developing countries and countries with economies in transition, to enable implementation of the treaty.

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