Perilous pesticides

Published: Friday 31 October 1997

Five widely used organophosphate-based pesticides have been added to the list of 17 harmful pesticides by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). As a result, international trade in these pesticides will be strictly monitored. These pesticides are methamidophos, methyl parathion, monocrotophos, parathion and phosphamidon.

A spokesperson for the FAO said that these pesticides would be subject to "prior informed consent procedure" (PIC), a voluntary system that bars the export of the listed chemicals without the agreement of the importing country. "These pesticides pose a considerable risk to the health of many small farmers and agricultural workers as they cannot be handled safely. In developing countries, protective gear is often either too expensive or unstable due to climate," said Niek Van der Graaff of the FAO. Consumers also face the risk of acute poisoning on consumption of green leafy vegetables, that are treated with organophosphate pesticides shortly before harvest.

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