Chemicals and pesticides are toxic products that can cause massive environmental and health problems if not properly managed. Because many are persistant and move around the environment, poor management in one country can cause problems in another. So the international community has established a number of initiatives to create a set of minimum standards which will protect animals, people and nature globally.
The main legally binding conventions are:
- Stockholm Convention on Persistant Organic Pollutants (controls on production and use of the worst pollutants)
- Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (controls trade in dangerous chemicals, requiring consent of an importing country)
- Basel Convention on Hazardous Wastes (controls the international transport of wastes, setting standards to minimise the risks of accidents)
Other key initiatives include the 'Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management' (SAICM) which brings together the range of different initiatives, and the FAO Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides.
What chemicals are covered?
Each convention covers different chemicals, and are constantly being updated as more information becomese available. You can find a list of all the chemicals in PAN UK's List of Lists, which also tells you about other lists such as WHO hazard lists, US and EU carcinogen lists, and more
How are chemicals added?
All the initiatives are based on science, and both Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions have a technical Review Committee which is responsible for assessing whether chemicals should be added. Initial proposals are made by goverments who have signed up to the convention, and should be based on a risk assessment and national ban of that chemical.