By Dr. Christoph Neumann
Pesticides are a critical tool to help farmers around the world protect their crops, ensure their livelihoods and provide food to a growing population. If left uncontrolled, pests would significantly reduce the quantity and quality of food production. In fact, global crop losses could reach 50 to 80 percent without effective integrated pest management (IPM) strategies, including the use of pesticides, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
In low income countries (LICs), the impact of these losses on food security and farmer livelihoods can be particularly severe – pesticides are therefore in demand. But more must be done, by all stakeholders, to ensure the safe and responsible use of pesticides, especially highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) used by farmers in LICs.
CropLife International and its member companies are proactive in their approach to managing HHPs and go beyond regulatory requirements to ensure the responsible use of products through their life-cycle.
We run capacity building workshops for regulators in low income countries and support the FAO in the roll-out of its pesticide registration toolkit. In addition we have developed an online e-learning tool to help all stakeholders understand and adhere to the FAO/WHO International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management. So far over 5,000 people have used the tool.
As an association we have also trained 3,7 million people in the responsible use of pesticides since 2005, while our member companies have trained tens of millions more.
In addition, CropLife International’s member companies recently conducted individual portfolio reviews evaluating their entire range of more than 6,400 crop protection products under a common approach. Fifteen percent of the products were identified as HHPs and underwent a risk assessment based on local use conditions, focused on low income countries. Risk mitigation measures were evaluated and in certain specific situations where the risk remained too high, and couldn’t be managed through the proper implementation of enhanced risk mitigation measures, the product has been withdrawn from that market.
Perhaps innovation remains our strongest tool. Our members are innovating to replace highly hazardous pesticides with newer, less toxic products. Over the past 50 years the acute toxicity of pesticides has fallen by half, and continues to improve with smarter technology. However, it is essential that the regulatory capacity of low income countries to protect confidential business information (CBI) is improved to allow new products onto the market. Without effective protection of CBI, the industry’s investment is jeopardized, innovation is stifled and a farmer’s only available crop protection option may still be a HHP.
Our goal is now to encourage all stakeholders, including generic companies and governments in low income countries, to engage in a positive dialogue around pesticide use to ensure the sound management of HHPs globally.
Global Policy Discussion on Highly Hazardous Pesticides
The sound management of highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) is an important topic among a range of stakeholders including United Nations bodies, national governments, agricultural associations, non-governmental organizations, farmers and others.
The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) – led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) – is the major intergovernmental policy framework through which these stakeholders are working to address HHPs and promote chemical safety.
SAICM’s overall objective is the sound management of chemical products throughout their life cycle so that by the year 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on the environment and human health.
CropLife International has been actively involved in the SAICM process and encourages generic pesticide manufactures to join us, to provide a united pesticide industry voice.
Dr. Christoph Neumann is International Regulatory Affairs Director for Crop Protection at CropLife International.