PANNA: Action Alert: Tell the U.S. Senate Not to Gut the POPs Treaty


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Action Alert: Tell the U.S. Senate Not to Gut the POPs Treaty
August 29
, 2003

The U.S. Senate is finally preparing to ratify the Stockholm Convention, a global treaty banning persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Legislation now moving through Congress, however, deeply undermines the agreement by allowing the U.S. to ignore international decisions targeting new chemicals under the treaty. Reducing the treaty’s effectiveness is no way to ratify, tell your Senators to adopt the Stockholm Convention at full strength.

The Stockholm Convention was signed by more than 100 countries in 2001, and has now been ratified by 35 of the 50 nations needed to bring the treaty into effect. The Convention was developed to eliminate a class of particularly dangerous chemicals that are toxic, move great distances via wind and water, persist in the environment and bio-accumulate as they move up the food chain. The treaty will immediately ban 12 POPs, nine of which are pesticides once used widely in the United States.

The treaty includes provisions for taking future action on additional POPs, some of which will likely be pesticides still in widespread use in the U.S. The first 50 countries that ratify the Convention will have greater influence on treaty implementation than those countries ratifying later, in part because they will be eligible to participate in the scientific review committee that considers the addition of new POPs chemicals to the elimination list.

Shortly after Labor Day, the U.S. “implementing legislation” for the treaty will come before the Senate Agriculture Committee. The bill will also allow for the long-awaited U.S. ratification of two related treaties, the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) and the Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP), both important agreements that the U.S. needs to formally accept.

Legislation has been stalled in the Senate for nearly a year, with the major sticking point the question of what to do when new POPs chemicals are targeted for global elimination. The current Senate bill (S.1486) gives U.S. EPA complete discretion as to whether or not to move forward with a domestic ban once a chemical is listed under the Stockholm Convention.

The question of how to target new chemicals is particularly important because there are many chemicals still in use in the United States that are likely to face elimination under the Stockholm Convention. Three of those on the short list of candidates are pesticides still frequently used in the U.S.: pentachlorophenol (PCP), lindane and endosulfan. PCP is used to preserve wooden utility poles, railroad ties and wharf pilings, and for structural pest control. Lindane, an organochlorine pesticide, is banned or restricted in 40 countries, and is used in the U.S. on seeds, in soil (an estimated 233,000 pound of active ingredient annually) and pharmaceutically in lice and scabies shampoos. Endosulfan is a neurotoxin used to kill insects and mites on crops such as tea, coffee, cotton, fruits, vegetables, rice and grains. An estimated 1.38 million pounds are applied annually.

If you live in the U.S., please write your Senators before September 8th, and let them know you want the Stockholm convention ratified — full strength.

Fill in the name of either one of your Senators (or do two letters), copy the below letter, print and mail, or go to to find the email addresses for your Senators and send the letter that way. To send a copy of the letter to your representative, go to to find the email address (the House will also be considering the legislation in September).
Please send your letter before September 8th!

For more information on POPs pesticides and PAN’s work to eliminate them, visit


The Honorable Senator ________
United States Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator _______:

When the Senate Agriculture Committee takes up the issue of the Stockholm Convention in September, I urge you to support a version of the implementing legislation that includes a meaningful way for the U.S. to target new chemicals when they are added under the treaty. The current version of the bill (S.1486) allows the U.S. to ignore decisions to add new chemicals – even though we will participate in any decision-making at the international level. This undermines the spirit and effectiveness of this important Convention. Effective legislation to implement the treaty in the U.S. must truly protect the American public from pesticides that are identified now or in the future as dangerous POPs chemicals.

Thank you for your consideration,


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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