Alternatives to hazardous pesticides


The Rotterdam Convention facilitates information exchange among Parties regarding regulatory and management practices that promote the safer handling of pesticides and the development and use of safer alternatives and techniques to control pests and regulate plant growth. The Convention also assists Parties to reduce risks from highly hazardous pesticides and provides the necessary guidance and technical assistance for sound pesticides management, including the identification of safer alternatives. 

Collecting and providing access to information on alternatives is essential to enable Parties to better address challenges associated with pesticide-related incidents. By means of sustainable solutions to reduce risks while changing to safer alternatives, Parties will also reduce the economic burden caused by hazardous pesticides. Further, identifying and gathering information on cost-effective alternatives, including non-chemical solutions, will also respond to concerns and needs from Parties regarding the importance of promoting safer working conditions for farmers and improved environmental protection in agricultural lands. 

Under the framework of the Rotterdam Convention, information on alternatives is contained in the Decisions guidance documents (DGD) developed by the Chemical Review Committee (CRC). Additionally, Parties that have notified the Secretariat of their banned or restricted pesticides at national level, by submission of the FRA notification forms for this purpose, have also provided information on alternatives for the notified substance through Section of the form. The Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention, by means of technical assistance activities, further supports Parties in identifying other sources of information and facilitates an information sharing process where national governments can access relevant data on the characteristics, uses and benefits of alternatives to hazardous pesticides. Additionally, the Secretariat lists electronic links to sources where Parties are able to obtain more information on alternatives and of examples and case studies where these have been applied. 

Benefits of access to information on alternatives

  • Informed policy and decision-making to promote an integrated approach for the use of safer alternatives. 
  • Enhanced pesticides management practices aimed at minimizing risks through sustainable agricultural systems. 
  • Facilitated global knowledge sharing and access to information to better understand the advantages of safer alternatives. 
  • Increased potential to strengthen research and innovation in the development of alternatives to hazardous pesticides. 
  • Raised awareness among stakeholders about the importance to capitalize on new opportunities to reduce pesticide risks. 

What are the alternatives to hazardous pesticides? 

The replacement of hazardous pesticides with safer alternatives can be done by means of sustainable practices and achieved in a cost-effective manner. Examples of approaches to pesticide risk reduction include: 

How to find viable alternatives?

The FAO Pesticide Registration Toolkit contains a section on “Assessment of alternatives”, which provides guidance on finding alternatives to highly hazardous pesticides in the context of sustainable agriculture production. The guidance includes the key principles, a consultative, multi-stakeholder process of identifying viable alternatives and facilitates their introduction into farming systems. It requires a holistic approach by taking into account the effectiveness and potential risks of alternatives, local conditions of use, socio-economic factors and technical capacity available in the country.