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Geneva post-game wrap-up: Endosulfan, toxic flame retardants & POPs waste

Wonk Warning: What follows is a long and detailed post wrapping up last week's POPRC6 meeting. Read at your own risk!

I recently spent a week in Switzerland attending the sixth meeting of the Stockholm Convention's Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee. As I reported on Friday, the Committee voted late in the day to recommend a global phaseout of endosulfan, an antiquated organochlorine insecticide.

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Dispatch from Geneva 4: Global endosulfan ban!

It's been a real nail-biter, but at about 5 pm today, the committee decided to recommend a global ban on endosulfan! As predicted, India would not agree, so the committee was forced to a vote. In the end, there were 24 votes for a ban, 5 abstentions, and no votes against.

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Dispatch from Geneva 3: End game for endosulfan?

It's Friday morning Geneva; the last day of POPRC6. For the last four days, scientific experts, government delegates, and representatives from industry and NGOs like PAN have been discussing some of the most dangerous chemicals in the world: those which are not only highly toxic but also extremely persistent. Long after they fulfill their intended purposes, these "chemical zombies" continue wander the Earth inflicting indiscriminate damage, refusing to die.

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Dispatch from Geneva 1: 3 more countries ban endosulfan

It's Tuesday morning in Geneva, and there's lots of good news to report from the first full day of negotiations of the expert committee of the Stockholm Convention. As the parties consider whether to recommend a worldwide ban on the antiquated insecticide endosulfan, yesterday saw two more countries announce domestic bans. Prof. Masaru Kitano of Meiji University told the committee that the Japanese registration for endosulfan expired on September 29 and was not renewed, and then Ms. Kyunghee Choi of South Korea announced that all uses would be phased out in that country by December 2011.

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Geneva pre-game: POPs action or just talk?

Next week the Stockholm Convention's Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee is convening again, an event insiders refer to as POPRC 6 (pronounced "pop rock"). Today's post will serve as the "pre-game show" for the meeting, highlighting what's a stake. On October 8 I fly to Geneva to attend the weeklong meeting, and with any luck I'll manage to update GroundTruth with a few dispatches from the meeting and then a "post-game" debrief afterward.

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Walking up river with two powerful films

Once there was a village along a river.
The people who lived here were very kind.
These residents, according to parable, began noticing increasing numbers of drowning people caught in the river's swift current.
And so they went to work, devising ever more elaborate technologies to resuscitate them.
So preoccupied were these heroic villagers with rescue and treatment, that they never thought to look upstream to see who was pushing the victims in.
This is a walk up that river.

So begins Living Downstream, a new film based on book of the same name by ecologist, poet, and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber. In the tradition of Silent Spring, the film examines the connections between human health and the health of the environment, and questions whether polluted ecosystems can sustain healthy communities. The film highlights atrazine and other chemicals linked to cancer that contaminate our bodies and our environments.

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New Hampshire considers cosmetic pesticide ban

Back in March, we reported in PANUPS on the New Hampshire state legislature's plan to “study the effects of a moratorium on the use of…pesticides and herbicides…in residential neighborhoods, school properties, playgrounds, and other places children congregate.” The plan was inspired by bans on cosmetic pesticide use that have been enacted in cities and provences across Canada over the last few years.

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New Malaria drug offers hope

Most people immediately think of mosquitoes when they hear the word "malaria." They transmit the parasite, so keeping them at bay—with window screens and bednets, by denying them places to breed, or by killing them outright—is a critical element in preventing the disease. Another crucial front in the struggle is pharmaceutical: prompt, effective treatment of malaria infections means fewer human reservoirs of the parasite, which in turn means fewer opportunities for mosquitoes to pick up the disease and pass it on. 

But just as insecticide resistance has hamstrung vector control in many parts of the world, malaria parasites have evolved resistance to the various drugs we've deployed over the years.

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“Team Atrazine” tries out new talking points

As EPA’s scientific advisory panel continues its investigation of atrazine this week, supporters of the pesticide have mounted a coordinated media blitz. It’s made for some fascinating reading.

Some background:  EPA is holding a series of meetings this year to reexamine Syngenta’s controversial herbicide atrazine — the one that contaminates 93.9% of drinking water samples tested by the USDA, turns male frogs into females, and was banned across Europe back in 2004.

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