Pesticide Action Network Updates Service (PANUPS)
Action Alert: POPs Negotiation Update
NGOs Call For Stronger U.S. Government Position
Governments from around the world meet in Bonn, Germany next week to continue negotiation of a global treaty to eliminate persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including many pesticides. The Bonn meeting is the fourth of five negotiating sessions. At the third meeting in September 1999, negotiators from 115 countries met in Geneva and reached preliminary agreement to eliminate production and use of the POPs pesticides aldrin, endrin and toxaphene without exemptions. They also agreed to phase out chlordane, dieldrin, heptachlor, mirex and hexachlorobenzene with country-specific exemptions (see PANUPS, 10/12/99). The remaining chemicals on the list remain controversial: PCBs, dioxins and furans, and DDT.
Other issues under consideration at the fourth POPs treaty negotiating session include providing technical and financial assistance to allow developing countries to implement a POPs treaty, criteria for adding additional POPs to the treaty, use of trade mechanisms to implement the treaty, and ensuring adequate research and information exchange. The fifth and final negotiating session will be held this fall in South Africa.
NGOs, including PAN groups worldwide, have followed the POPs treaty negotiations closely. An International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) was established in 1998 to coordinate NGO activities related to POPS issues. The IPEN platform statement emphasizes elimination rather than management of POPs chemicals, and urges application of the Precautionary Principle throughout the treaty and in its implementation.
POPs are a group of synthetic carbon-based chemical compounds that pose particular hazards to human health and the environment due to their chemistry. They are toxic, and break down verly slowly in living beings and the environment. They also accumulate in body fat, and can evaporate and travel great distances. POPs pose a hazard even at low levels, because they build up over time in the body fat of organisms and concentrate as they move through the food web. Because they are persistent, mobile and accumulate in body fat, POPs contamination is now pervasive and global.
A U.S. State Department memo to European government officials was recently leaked to Greenpeace. The U.S. memo urged European negotiators to back down on several positions that are stronger than those of the U.S. government.
In an effort to counter these U.S. government efforts to undermine the POP negotiations, dozens of NGOs worldwide, including PANNA, have signed on in support of print and television advertisements calling on the U.S. government to strengthen its position in the POPs negotiations. The first print ad runs in the New York Times on Saturday, March 18, and again next week run in the newspaper USA Today’s European edition. The television ad will air next week on the television network CNN in Washington, D.C. and Europe.
What You Can Do
Go to http://www.stoppops.org ON OR AFTER SATURDAY, MARCH 18 (when the New York Times advertisement appears) to view the ad and send a message to U.S. President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore urging them to resist pressure from the chemical industry and to push for global elimination of POPS and a strong POPs treaty.
For additional information on how to help stop POPs, visit PANNA’s website http://www.panna.org.