International experts recommend trade control measures for two more hazardous pesticides known to harm human health and the environment

24 September 2021

As part of the global community’s ongoing efforts to tackle the triple threats of climate change, biodiversity loss, and negative impacts from hazardous chemicals and waste, international experts today recommended legally-binding control and information exchange on the international trade of two hazardous chemicals used in agriculture across the globe.

The two pesticides recommended for listing in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention, both used in agriculture, are known to have harmful impacts on human health and the environment. Terbufos, for example, is a soil insecticide used commonly on sorghum, maize, beet and potatoes and is known to pose a high to extremely high risk to aquatic organisms, birds, and small mammals due to its toxicity. Iprodione is a fungicide used on vines, fruits trees and vegetables, and has been classified as carcinogenic and toxic for reproduction.

The recommendations were made today at the 17th meeting of the Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical Review Committee (CRC), which met online from 20 to 24 September 2021, bringing together over more than one hundred experts from a wide spectrum of stakeholders from more than 50 countries.

The Committee had an unusually heavy agenda, with logistical and time constraints imposed by the pandemic-influenced requirement to meet online. Further discussions are needed on five additional pesticides, namely carbaryl, chlorfenvinphos, methidathon, methyl parathion and thiodicarb, which will be carried forward to the next CRC meeting in 2022.

The Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical Review Committee (CRC) ensures rigorous scientific underpinning for decision-making on the international trade and management of hazardous chemicals. The online meeting included experts from government, civil society and industry.

Welcoming the recommendations, the Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention (UNEP), Rolph Payet said: “We all know and feel the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The most impacted have been the vulnerable: vulnerable countries, vulnerable populations, and the most vulnerable within vulnerable communities. These same communities are also the most at risk from exposure and impacts from poor management of chemicals. This week’s CRC recommendations seek to reduce this vulnerability, representing one way to benefit human health and environment where this is most needed.”

Rémi Nono Womdim, Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), commended the work of the international experts of the Committee, adding: “Recommending these two pesticides become subject to a structured information exchange under the Convention is an important step towards a global reduction of the risk they pose to human health and the environment. This is urgently needed to ensure the production of safe and nutritious food for all while protecting the environment”.

The Committee’s recommendations to list these chemicals in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention will be forwarded to the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 2023 (COP-11), together with a Decision Guidance Document (DGD) for each chemical. The DGD will be developed by CRC and finalized at its next meeting in 2022.

Meanwhile, COP-10, whose face-to-face segment is scheduled to be held in Geneva in June 2022, will consider, among others, two industrial chemicals previously recommended by CRC for listing in Annex III, namely decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE), an additive flame retardant and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and PFOA-related compounds, belonging to a group of chemicals known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).

Should the COP decide to list these chemicals, Parties to the Rotterdam Convention will be obliged to communicate and share information regarding the import and export of these chemicals. This is achieved through a legally-binding, structured information exchange procedure based on prior informed consent to international trade (PIC Procedure), enabling importing countries to take informed decisions, achieve sound management, and ultimately lower the risk of harmful impacts on health and the environment.

Note for Editors:

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, is jointly administered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The 164 Parties to this legally-binding Convention share responsibility and cooperate to safely manage chemicals in international trade. To date 52 hazardous chemicals and pesticides are listed in its Annex III, making their international trade subject to a prior informed consent (PIC) procedure.

The Rotterdam Convention does not introduce bans on international trade but facilitates information exchange among Parties on hazardous chemicals and pesticides and about their characteristics, facilitating a national decision-making process on their import and export and by disseminating these decisions to Parties and other stakeholders. In addition, through its PIC Procedure, the Convention provides a legally binding mechanism to support national decisions on the import of certain chemicals and pesticides in order to minimize the risk they pose to human health and the environment. 

Decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) is an additive flame retardant applied to plastics, textiles and coatings and can be found in computers, TVs, wires and cables, pipes, carpets, automotive parts and aircraft. It is known to be highly persistent, has high potential for bioaccumulation and long-range transport, and affects human and animal reproductive and nervous systems as an endocrine disruptor,[1] and is listed in Annex A to the the Stockholm Convention as a persistent organic pollutant.

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and PFOA-related compounds belong to a group of chemicals known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) which comprises more than 4,000 chemicals. PFOA is used in a wide variety of industrial and domestic applications including non-stick cookware and food processing equipment, as well as a surfactant in textiles, carpets, paper, paints and fire-fighting foams. PFOA is also a persistent organic pollutant, linked to major health issues such as kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and high cholesterol.[2]

For more information, please contact:

For industrial chemicals: Kei OHNO WOODALL, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-2333218, +41-22-9178201,

For pesticides: Christine FUELL, Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), Rome: +39-06-57053765,

For media enquiries: Charlie AVIS, Public Information Officer (BRS, UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-7304495,  

FAO media relations office, Rome: +39-06-57053625,