Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific calls for explanation on Philippine decision to prevent the banning or restriction of carbosulfan, a toxic pesticide

The that the Philippines is one of the two countries that blocked the inclusion of carbosulfan in Annex III of the (RC) is extremely appalling.

PAN-Philippines is among the stakeholders who supported the UNEP-FAO Chemical Review Committee’s (CRC) decision to include the eight chemicals found hazardous to human health and the environment in the RC’s Annex III during the stakeholders’ meeting called by the DENR EMB for the development of the Philippine’s position on the matter.

During the April 18 meeting, Ban Toxics, EcoWaste Coalition, and the Food and Drugs Administration voiced out their firm support on CRC’s recommendation citing references to back-up their positions. The only opposition to the listing of the pesticides carbosulfan, carbofuran, paraquat SHPF and fenthion SHPF came from CropLife Philippines. Thus, Dir. Wilfredo Roldan’s blocking of the listing of carbosulfan came as a surprise. Dir. Roldan is the Head of the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority (FPA) and the country’s Designated National Authority (DNA) on pesticides to the tri-COPs.

PAN Phil’s President, Dr. Romeo Quijano exclaimed, “The official Philippine opposition to the listing of carbosulfan is both alarming and suspicious since carbosulfan is not even a registered pesticide in the Philippines. It is common knowledge that the Philippine FPA is highly influenced by the pesticide industry and their non-attendance to the pre-COPs meeting is dubious.”

Even the DENR-EMB officials expressed their concern when not a single FPA representative attended the stakeholders’ meeting.

Dr Quijano continued, “Carbosulfan is banned in 40 countries. It is toxic to humans when inhaled and highly toxic to birds, fish, aquatic invertebrates and bees. Carbofuran, its major metabolite, is more toxic. Although banned in 49 countries, it is still in use in Mindanao plantations. Both pesticides present unacceptable risks to workers carrying out certain tasks such as mixing, loading, application and post-application.”

Carbofuran, trichlorfon, tributyltin compounds and short-chain chlorinated paraffins were approved for listing in the Annex III. Due to dissenting votes, carbosulfan, paraquat SHPF, fenthion SHPF and chryostile asbestos were not included.

PANAP Executive Director Sarojeni Rengam was aghast. “The registration of carbosulfan-based pesticides in CILSS countries was stopped in 2006 due to the disappearance of beneficial organisms and the lack of protective equipment by users. EU stopped giving authorizations for carbosulfan-containing plant protection products in 16 June 2007, and banned it entirely in December 2008. The CILSS Coordinating Minister (Minister of Agriculture and Environment) banned it in April 2015 due to unacceptable risk to human health.

“I do not understand why Philippines and Indonesia, both with climate that makes the use of personal protective equipment impractical, blocked the listing of carbosulfan. Inclusion in the Annex III should have been welcomed by the country DNAs since this would help State Governments monitor the entry of hazardous pesticides and chemicals and hold accountable corporations that trade and utilize these,” she said.

A 2017 Gender Pioneers for a Future Detoxified awardee, Ms Rengam is specially saddened by the nonlisting of the three pesticides on account of the intensified risk on women. “Carbosulfan, paraquat and fenthion are considered by PAN as highly hazardous pesticides. Women are most vulnerable to HHP’s harmful effects. They lack medical support and are rarely taken seriously,” she lamented.

Paraquat, banned in 38 countries, is still registered for use in the Philippines until June 2017.

A DENR-EMB representative informed PAN-Phil that they do not have a copy of the Philippine position and that Dir. Roldan, who could not be reached for comment as of this writing, is the only person who can clarify the issue.