The Eighth Meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, meeting in Geneva, approved the assessment of 100 chemical alternatives to endosulfan on Thursday.  In a significant departure from past practice, the Committee also recommended non-chemical alternatives (to endosulfan).

Of the 110 chemical alternatives assessed for endosulfan, one (dicofol) was set apart for further evaluation because of the possibility that it could also be a persistent organic pollutant. The Committee observed that nine of the alternatives suggested needed further evaluation 

The approved chemical alternatives include pesticides malathion, aldicarb, carbofuran, cabaryl, fipronil, methyl parathion and pyrethrin which are used in India. The decisions of the Committee, which is recommendatory in nature, will now go before the next meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention to be held in April next year.

The Conference of the Parties had decided last year to list technical endosulfan and its related isomers for phased elimination, with specific exemptions that included use on multiple crop-pest complexes.  The Review Committee was asked to support the development and deployment of alternatives to endosulfan.

The evaluation on non chemical alternatives to endosulfan covered ecosystem-based approaches on pest management as well as technical interventions using natural plant extracts, attractant lures and traps and biological controls such as pathogens, predators and parasitoids.

“The focus is on managing the agroecosystem to avoid build-up of pests using cultural, biological and mechanical methods instead of synthetic materials. Practices include using resistant varieties better adapted to ecologically-based production than those bred for high-input agriculture, crop diversity, crop rotation, intercropping, optimised planting time and weed management, conserving natural enemies and managing crop nutrient levels to reduce insect reproduction. Such approaches have shown increased or similar yields, greater returns to farmers and an improvement in social and environmental indicators,” the document presented to the Committee on the assessment said.

The report gave guidance on technical feasibility, a step-wise approach to shifting to ecology-based approaches and training of farmers.

The Committee meeting, which began on Monday, concludes on Friday.