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New International Code on Pesticide Use Adopted
(from November 6, 2002)

Meeting in Rome last week, the governing body of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization adopted a new pesticide Code to improve standards over the promotion, sale and use of pesticides. According to a press release from the Pesticide Action Network UK, the revised International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides sets higher standards and offers a more precise guidance to governments, regulators, traders and industry.

Pesticide use in developing countries is expanding, even though these countries already account for over 95 per cent of serious poisonings and fatalities. Some of the most acutely toxic chemicals produced are widely used with no protection, by farmers and workers with no training and limited awareness of the hazards.

"For the first time, the Code calls on the food industry to help implement its recommendations. It is now up to all sectors and interests to ensure food is grown safely and without harm to farmers and workers," said Barbara Dinham, Director of Pesticide Action Network UK. "Consumers need to become more aware of the conditions of food production, and play a part in reducing the use of hazardous products."

The Code is the globally accepted standard for pesticide management. It supports Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies that emphasize growing a healthy crop and encourage natural pest control mechanisms. It calls for an IPM "based on scientific and other strategies that promote increased participation of farmers (including women's groups), extension agents and on-farm researchers." While the Code is voluntary, the industry association, CropLife, International had made it obligatory for members to support the provisions of the previous versions.

Protection of the environment and biodiversity are explicitly recognised in the new Code. It calls for better monitoring of pesticide residues in food and the environment, and minimizing the adverse effects of pesticides in the water, soil, air and on non-target organisms.

The International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides was first adopted in 1985, but the revised version places greater emphasis on reducing risks and hazards, with a recommendation against using extremely and highly toxic in developing countries.

"Implementation of this revised FAO Code would make a real difference to the majority of the world's population: women and men farmers and agricultural workers, especially in developing countries, who are daily exposed to pesticides," said Barbara Dinham.

For more Information Contact: Barbara Dinham, Pesticide Action Network UK.
Phone: +44 20 7274 8895. Email: barbaradinham@pan-uk.org