Decoding the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management

By Rolando Zamora

What is the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management? And how can the global CropLife International network and industry stakeholders best understand it?

To answer these questions, CropLife International has relaunched an e-learning tool tool to help member companies, associations and other stakeholders decode the Code.

The Code was developed in 1985 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and updated in 1989, 2002, 2009 and most recently, in 2013. It is based on risk assessment and the shared responsibility of all parties involved in the manufacturing and handling of pesticides and covers every aspect of pesticide management from production to disposal. It is fully supported and actively promoted by CropLife International and its member companies.

The 2013 Code gives greater attention to health and environmental aspects of crop protection products, updates a number of definitions and terms, and aligns guidance in several technical areas with developments in international chemicals management. For example, the Code now focuses on risk reduction by calling on countries to identify and restrict or remove highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) if stewardship measures and other practices are insufficient to ensure that the products can be handled without unacceptable risk to humans and the environment.
CropLife International’s e-learning tool, first developed in 2009, has now been updated to reflect the 2013 changes to the Code.

What Are the Updates to the Code?

  • Changed name of the Code from “International Code of Conduct on Distribution and Use of Pesticides” to “International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management”
  •  New and/or amended definitions for active ingredient, coformulant, container, pesticide, pest, pesticide management, public health uses of pesticides, lifecycle, poison, vulnerable groups and HHPs in Article 2.
  • New focus on HHP risk management (Article 7.5) that is consistent with CropLife International’s approach.  Prohibition of the importation, distribution, sale and purchase of HHPs may be considered if, based on risk assessment, risk mitigation measures or good marketing practices are insufficient to ensure that the product can be handled without unacceptable risk to humans and the environment.
  •  Introduction of new areas of focus such as Integrated Vector Management (IVM), Pest Control Operators (PCOs), International Organization and Severely Hazardous Pesticides Formulations
  • Encouragement of policies, regulations, permits and licenses as well as information exchange for PCOs
  •  More information about Globally Harmonized Systems, counterfeiting and illegal trade
  • Updated listing of international agreements relevant to the Code (Annex 1)

online e tool

What are the changes to CropLife International’s e-learning tool?

  •  Developed a new platform in HTML to increase compatibility with web browsers and increase accessibility
  •  Created a new, easy-to-use design with smooth transitions between modules and pages
  •  Added a sign-up mechanism that saves information for returning users and helps measure use of the tool
  •  Offering a certificate for users after completion of each module and another after completing all four module
  •  Availability in 14 languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian now; French, German, Polish, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese and Arabic soon

The e-learning tool has quizzes during and after each of the four modules which cover 12 articles in the Code. These articles address 1) the objectives of the Code; 2) terms and definitions; 3) pesticide management; 4) testing of crop protection products; 5) reducing health and environmental risks; 6) regulatory and technical requirements; 7) availability and use; 8) distribution and trade, 9) information exchange; 10) labeling, packaging, storage and disposal; 11) advertising; and 12) monitoring and observance of the Code.
Each module reflects specific aspects of the Code for people with different backgrounds. For example, module two on marketing, distribution and sales is ideal for crop protection product marketers and retailers while module four on registration, training and technical services is perfect for those dealing with regulatory affairs. The modules also emphasize key aspects of the Code; for example, the lifecycle approach to stewardship for product management is described in each one.
This online tool makes it easy for everyone in the crop protection industry to “decode” the articles in the Code. It also plays an important role for stakeholders interested in understanding the Code and how the industry contributes to its implementation. The tool can be accessed via or directly.
Rolando Zamora is stewardship manager at CropLife International. He may be reached at