Published: Wednesday 31 March 2004

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade has now become international law. The convention enables countries to decide which potentially hazardous chemicals they want to import, and to exclude those they cannot manage safely. While trading in chemicals, accurate labelling would henceforth make the buyer aware of the potential hazard thus ensuring safe use. It also proposes to help countries to avoid using harmful pesticides and instruct smaller farmers in developing countries on the use of highly toxic chemicals.

After grappling with drought, Australia is now battling against locusts that have invaded the outback. The crop-eating pests have been breeding near the sorghum and cotton crops. Southwest Queensland and northwest New South Wales are the worst-affected areas. The January rains that ended the dry spell are said to have brought in the pests. With their ability to travel up to 700 kilometres in a single night, the locusts now threaten to spread into the heavily populated eastern coastal areas.

An agreement has been signed for the controversial Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan crude oil project. The 1,760-kilometre pipeline will carry more than one million barrels of oil daily from Azerbaijan to Turkey and world markets. It will pass from Baku in Azerbaijan through Tbilisi in Georgia to Ceyhan, Turkey. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the pipeline passes through sensitive areas which are habitats of various endangered species. It could have devastating effects on the region's mineral water and tourism industries as well.

Special prosecutors have been deputed to fight environmental crime in Scotland. These 15 specialists will monitor and crack down on polluters across the country. The prosecutors will be recruited from within the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). They will be trained in environmental crime and legislation. As in England and Wales, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency cannot bring prosecutions itself. This power is solely vested in the COPFS.

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