FAO, UNEP, and global experts move forward on protecting human health and environment through Rotterdam Convention mechanisms

Assisting governments to make informed decisions concerning pesticide and industrial chemical use, the Rotterdam Convention’s Chemicals Review Committee held its 11th meeting at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters in Rome, 26-28 October 2015.

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, is jointly administered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The Convention encourages nations to help each other to safely manage chemicals in international trade.

The Rotterdam Convention does not introduce bans but facilitates the exchange of information among member governments on hazardous chemicals and pesticides, and their potential risks. The information can be used to improve national decision making. In addition, through the Prior Informed Consent or PIC Procedure, it provides a legally binding mechanism to support national decisions on the import of selected chemicals and pesticides in order to minimize the risk they pose to human health and the environment.

During its meeting this week the Chemical Review Committee (CRC), a subsidiary body of the Convention, recommended the inclusion of two additional pesticides in Annex III of the Convention. The decision to list carbofuran, one of the most toxic carbamate pesticides, and carbosulfan, a highly toxic pesticide, will be taken at the next Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (COP), in 2017. The Committee also finalized the draft Decision Guidance Documents for short-chained chlorinated paraffins (SCCP), and for tributyltin compounds (TBT) and agreed to submit them to the COP with a view to their adoption at its eighth meeting, together with the recommendations by the Committee to list the chemicals in Annex III to the Convention.

Kerstin Stendahl, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), noted that the CRC provides the Rotterdam Convention with a “very solid scientific and technical basis. Through the work of the CRC we have seen hazardous chemicals and pesticides added to the PIC information procedure, thereby allowing governments to make informed decisions on the import of these. The meeting this week proved that CRC in its work is guided by scientific rigour and a commitment to the protection of human health and environment.”

The decisions this week on TBT and SCCP are an important step towards strengthening countries’ capacity to take action against unwanted imports of these chemicals,” William Murray, Executive Secretary of the FAO part of the Rotterdam Convention. “Of the pesticides considered by the Committee it is important to recognize that three were supported by notifications prepared and submitted by African countries. This is evidence that the capacity development programme of the Secretariat, working in collaboration with FAO, is having an impact and that increasingly the Convention is meeting the needs of developing counties”.

“The Chemical Review Committee has always been working in a very transparent and inclusive manner, conducting its work independently and on science-based information only” Jürgen Helbig, the current chair of the CRC noted. “I am pleased with the outcome of this eleventh CRC meeting which paves the road to the next COP. We are all working together to achieve an even stronger Rotterdam Convention and if all goes well, we will have probably more than 50 chemicals and pesticides subject to the PIC procedure by 2017.”

The meeting of the Chemicals Review Committee followed back-to-back the Stockholm Convention’s POPs Review Committee 11th meeting, 19-23 October 2015, at the same venue. 

Note for Editors: 

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade creates legally binding obligations for its currently 154 parties. Its Annex currently comprises 47 chemicals and pesticides.

The Chemical Review Committee consists of thirty-one scientific experts appointed by the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention charged with undertaking scientific review of chemicals proposed for listing. 

The pesticide carbofuran is a WHO class Ib pesticide and used to control insects in a wide variety of field crops, including potatoes, corn and soybeans. It is extremely toxic via the oral route and by inhalation (LD50 2 mg/kg in mice[1]) . The systemic insecticide is also highly toxic to freshwater invertebrates and extremely toxic to birds.

Carbosulfan is a broad-spectrum carbamate insecticide used to control various insects, including locusts and different types of grasshoppers, mites and nematodes mainly on potatoes, sugar beet, rice, maize and citrus. The main metabolite of carbosulfan in plants is carbofuran[2]. This cholinesterase inhibitor is highly toxic to birds, aquatic invertebrates and bees[3]

For more information, please contact:

For CRC/Rotterdam Convention: www.pic.int 

For POPRC/Stockholm Convention: www.pops.int

  • Kei OHNO WOODALL, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-2333218, +41-22-917-78201, kei.ohno-woodall@brsmeas.org 
  • Charlie AVIS, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-730-4495, charles.avis@brsmeas.org


[1] Extoxnet (consulté le 2 /05/ 2012)

[2] http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/y5221e/y5221e08.htm

[3] Footprint PPDB, 2014