PANNA: POPs Treaty In Force Today


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POPs Treaty In Force Today
May 17, 2004

May 17th 2004 is a historic day in the battle against chemical pollution. Today the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs treaty) comes into force, targeting an entire class of chemical pollutants for global elimination. The phase out of an initial list of 12 dangerous pesticides and industrial pollutants has already been agreed under the treaty* and a process is in place for adding new chemicals to the list. First signed in Stockholm in 2001 by more than 100 countries and ratified in record time by 59 nations, the treaty will convene the first Conference of the Parties in May of 2005.

"This represents a major victory for pesticide activists and our colleagues around the world working to protect our health and the environment," says Monica Moore, Program Director for PANNA. "PAN has been calling for elimination of many of these chemicals since the launch of the Dirty Dozen campaign in 1985."

Of the 12 initial chemicals targeted for phase out under the treaty, nine are pesticides. Among the top candidates for chemicals to be added to the list when the treaty moves forward are the pesticides lindane and endosulfan, and brominated flame retardants such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which have been found in growing numbers in people all over the world.

Although the U.S. signed the POPs treaty in 2001, it has not yet ratified the agreement, and the implementing legislation for the treaty proposed by the Bush Administration deeply undermines the convention. The Administration's bill currently under consideration in the U.S. Congress does not have the support of Pesticide Action Network or other environmental health groups that have long worked to bring this treaty into existence. One of the key issues at stake is the process of responding in the U.S. when new chemicals are targeted for elimination under the treaty. Rather than streamlining this process, the Bush Administration bill puts additional hurdles in place that would make it extremely difficult to take action to phase out additional POPs chemicals in the future.

In contrast to the Bush Administration attempts to undermine the landmark POPs treaty, nations around the world have found cause to celebrate on May 17. PAN groups in Europe have scheduled a forum in the offices of the European Union in Brussels, and PAN Asia and Pacific has launched a media campaign for more Asian ratifications. PAN groups are also participating in a Global Day of Action with events in 30 countries, organized by the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) a network of more than 350 public health, environmental, consumer, and other non-governmental organizations in 65 countries.

PANNA salutes all of the environmental and indigenous peoples' organizations that have worked to bring the Stockholm Convention into being. Our world has just become a safer place.

* Chemicals targeted for phaseout under the treaty are the pesticides endrin, mirex, toxaphene, chlordane, heptachlor, aldrin, dieldrin and DDT; and industrial chemicals hexachlorobenzene (also used as a pesticide) and PCBs; and the industrial byproducts dioxins and furans. A special interim exemption is granted for continued use of DDT for malaria control while safer alternatives are developed and adopted.

Sources: For information on the convention including the current list of countries that have signed and ratified, http://www.pops.int; IPEN Global Day of Action, http://www.ipen.org.

Contact: PANNA

PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don't always get coverage by the mainstream media. It's produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide.

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