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Stockholm Convention Decision on Endosulfan

18 October 2009
Revised 23 October 2009

The Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants met in Geneva on 12-16 October 2009 and agreed that the insecticide endosulfan satisfied the criteria as a persistent organic pollutant.

Following this decision, the Secretariat of the Convention will now invite all Parties and observers to provide technical comments and socio-economic information to enable the POPRC to evaluate possible control measures for endosulfan.

The outcome of this process will be the development of a draft risk management evaluation that considers such matters as alternatives, assessments of the positive and negative impacts of implementing possible control measures, waste and disposal implications, access to information and public education, and the status of control and monitoring capacity.

This evaluation will be developed and assessed at the next POPRC meeting in October 2010.

If the POPRC agrees that endosulfan passes the risk management evaluation phase, then in May 2011 a Conference of the Parties (to the Convention) will consider this evaluation and decide whether or not to list endosulfan and which control measure (ranging from restriction to elimination) is appropriate.

Australia is required to ratify the listing of any new chemical under the Convention before obligations apply. Although there is no deadline by which this must occur, it is expected a decision could be made within 12 months of listing. Ratification of an elimination decision would trigger a domestic process that may lead to the de-registration of endosulfan in Australia.

The POPRC Decision and the Australian Position on Endosulfan

The current POPRC decision was based on the criteria listed in Annex E of the Convention, namely that endosulfan is persistent, bioaccumulative and has the potential for long-range environmental transport and adverse human health or environmental effects.

Endosulfan is currently registered in Australia where its use is limited and tightly regulated following a formal review that concluded in 2005. Its availability in Australia relies on the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) being continually able to be satisfied that such use satisfies key tests defined in s.34 of the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994. These tests relate to occupational health and safety, human health, the environment and international trade.

Information from a range of feedback loops such as the National Residue Survey, the Adverse Experience Reporting Program, and monitoring through the States and Territories indicates that endosulfan is being used safely in Australia.

Decisions by the APVMA, however, are science-based. New information is being constantly considered. Recently, for example, the APVMA asked the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPC) to review a range of new scientific studies about endosulfan. A number of these relate to long-range environmental transport.

Advice from DSEWPC on these studies is being sought by the APVMA to determine if further regulatory action is warranted in Australia. Any such action would occur independently of processes under the Stockholm Convention although, of course, the ratification of a Convention decision to eliminate the production and use of endosulfan may automatically lead to de-registration and removal of endosulfan products from the Australian marketplace.

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