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Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB)

Volume 15 Number 254 | Monday, 30 October 2017


Summary of the Thirteenth Meeting of the Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical Review Committee

23-26 October 2017 | Rome, Italy


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The thirteenth meeting of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC-13) to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade took place from 23-26 October 2017 in Rome, Italy. Over 80 participants attended the meeting representing committee members, government observers, civil society organizations, and industry.

CRC-13 adopted recommendations for listing two pesticides (acetochlor and phorate) and an industrial chemical (hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)) in Annex III of the Convention. The Committee agreed to further discuss the notifications for atrazine and the proposal to list lambda-cyhalothrin emulsifiable concentrate as a severely hazardous pesticide formulation (SHPF) only if additional information becomes available. CRC-13 agreed to update the Handbook of Working Procedures and Policy Guidance for the CRC (CRC Handbook).

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ROTTERDAM CONVENTION AND THE CHEMICAL REVIEW COMMITTEE

At the core of the Rotterdam Convention, which entered into force on 24 February 2004, is the PIC Procedure, which is a mechanism for obtaining and disseminating the decisions of importing parties on whether they wish to receive future shipments of certain chemicals and for ensuring compliance with these decisions by exporting parties. The PIC Procedure applies to chemicals listed in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention, which includes pesticides, industrial chemicals, and SHPFs.

There are two ways to trigger the addition of new chemicals to Annex III. For pesticides and industrial chemicals, all parties must notify the Secretariat of any regulatory action they have adopted to domestically ban or severely restrict a chemical for environmental or health reasons. When the Secretariat receives two notifications of final regulatory actions from two different PIC regions (which are: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Near East, North America, and Southwest Pacific) that meet the criteria established in Annex I to the Convention (properties, identification and uses of the chemical and information on the regulatory action), it forwards the notifications to the CRC. The CRC then screens the notifications according to the criteria contained in Annex II and, if the Committee finds the criteria are met, it recommends listing the chemical in Annex III and preparing a decision guidance document (DGD) for consideration by the Conference of the Parties (COP).

For SHPFs, any party that is a developing country or country with an economy in transition can propose a SHPF for listing, which the Committee screens against the criteria in Annex IV (information and criteria for listing SHPFs in Annex III).

Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC): In the period between adoption of the Convention and its entry into force, the INC met six times from 1999 to 2004. During this time, the INC established the interim CRC and adopted draft DGDs for chemicals already identified for inclusion in the PIC Procedure. Several chemicals were also made subject to the PIC Procedure.

COP-1-4: COPs 1-3 convened annually in Geneva, Switzerland, from 2004-2006. COP-1 adopted all the decisions required to operationalize the legally-binding PIC Procedure. Delegates addressed procedural issues and other decisions, including establishing the CRC. COP-3 deferred the decision on listing chrysotile asbestos in Annex III until COP-4. COP-4 convened in Rome, Italy, in 2008, and agreed to add tributyltin (TBT) compounds to the PIC Procedure as a pesticide. There was no agreement on whether to list endosulfan or chrysotile asbestos and these decisions were deferred to COP-5.

CRC-1-6: These meetings convened annually from 2005-2010. During these meetings, the CRC agreed that the following chemicals met Annex II criteria and DGDs were drafted: chrysotile asbestos, TBT, endosulfan, aldicarb and alachlor.

CRC-7: CRC-7 was held in Rome, Italy, from 28 March-1 April 2011, and recommended the inclusion of azinphos-methyl in the Convention’s PIC Procedure. CRC-7 agreed to draft DGDs for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), its salts and perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride (PFOSF), and bromodiphenyl ethers (BDEs) contained in commercial mixtures, including tetraBDE, pentaBDE, hexaBDE, heptaBDE, octaBDE, nonaBDE and decaBDE.

COP-5: This meeting of the COP convened in Geneva, Switzerland, from 20-24 June 2011, and included aldicarb, alachlor, and endosulfan in the PIC Procedure. Delegates could not agree on the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos in Annex III to the Convention.

CRC-8: CRC-8, held from 19-23 March 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland, considered notifications for trichlorfon and dicofol, and recommended that the COP list penta- and octa-BDEs, and PFOS as an industrial chemical. The Committee also recommended that the COP list certain liquid formulations containing paraquat dichloride, a SHPF, in Annex III, and decided to strengthen cooperation and coordination between the CRC and the Stockholm Convention’s Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC), including by holding back-to-back meetings of the two Committees.

COP-6: COP-6 was held with the COPs of the Stockholm and Basel Conventions and a simultaneous extraordinary meeting of the three COPs (ExCOPs-2) from 28 April-10 May 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland. COP-6 decided to amend Annex III to list: azinphos-methyl; commercial pentaBDE, including industrial tetraBDE and industrial pentaBDE; commercial octaBDE, including hexaBDE and heptaBDE; and PFOS, perfluorooctanesulfonates, perfluorooctanesulfonamides and perfluorooctanesulfonyls. COP-6 decided that while paraquat met the listing criteria for a SHPF, it would postpone a decision until COP-7. A decision on listing chrysotile asbestos was also deferred to COP-7.

ExCOPs-2 recommended the implementation of joint activities between the CRC and POPRC; requested alignment of the CRC working arrangements with those of the POPRC to allow for effective participation of experts and observers at meetings; and requested the CRC and the POPRC to discuss and identify further steps to enhance their cooperation and coordination.

CRC-9: This meeting was held from 22-24 October 2013 in Rome, Italy. The Committee took decisions on: trichlorfon; cyhexatin; methamidophos; lead arsenate; lead carbonate; fenthion 640 ultra-low volume (ULV); and pentachlorobenzene. The Committee also requested the Secretariat to prepare an electronic “handbook” of procedures and guidance for the Committee.

CRC-10: This meeting took place from 22-24 October 2014 in Rome, Italy. The Committee adopted DGDs on methamidophos and fenthion ULV. It also agreed to prepare a DGD for short-chained chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs), and to revise the TBT DGD to include TBT compounds for industrial uses.

COP-7: This meeting was held with the COPs of the Stockholm and Basel Conventions from 4-15 May 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland. COP-7 was unable to agree on the listing of paraquat, fenthion, trichlorfon and chrysotile asbestos in Annex III, and deferred consideration to COP-8. COP-7 also established an intersessional working group to: review cases in which the COP was unable to reach consensus on the listing of a chemical by identifying the reasons for and against listing and, based on that and other information, to develop options for improving the effectiveness of the process; and to develop proposals for enabling information flows to support the PIC Procedure for those chemicals.

CRC-11: This meeting was held from 26-28 October 2015 in Rome, Italy. The Committee adopted draft DGDs on SCCPs and on TBT compounds for industrial uses. The Committee also recommended that the COP make carbofuran and carbosulfan subject to the PIC Procedure, and decided to prepare draft DGDs on both substances. On atrazine, the CRC agreed to defer consideration of the notifications from both the European Union (EU) and the Sahelian region to CRC-12.

CRC-12: This meeting took place from 14-16 September 2016 in Rome, Italy, adopting four decisions on: the draft DGDs for carbofuran and carbosulfan; a notification of final regulatory action on benzidine; and a proposal to include carbofuran suspension concentrate at or above 300 g/L as a SHPF. The Committee deferred a decision on the notifications for atrazine to CRC-13. CRC-12 established one intersessional task group to update the Handbook of Working Procedures and Policy Guidance for the CRC.

COP-8: This meeting was held back-to-back with the COPs of the Stockholm and Basel Conventions from 24 April - 5 May 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. Eight chemicals were considered for listing: carbofuran, carbosulfan, SCCPs, TBT compounds, trichlorfon, chrysotile asbestos, fenthion ULV formulations at or above 640 g active ingredient/L, and paraquat dichloride at or above 276 g/L. Parties agreed to list four chemicals in Annex III: carbofuran, SCCPs, TBT compounds, and trichlorfon. COP-8 deferred decisions on listing carbosulfan, chrysotile asbestos, paraquat, and fenthion to COP-9.

CRC-13 REPORT

Opening the meeting on Monday, CRC Chair Jürgen Helbig (Spain) welcomed delegates and expressed confidence in a successful session. Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions, highlighted the large number of chemicals scheduled for review during the session, saying this is a positive step and testament to growing concerns over hazardous chemicals and pesticides. He pointed to the considerable disparity between developed and developing countries in terms of capacity to undertake scientifically sound assessment for risk management and decision making. Payet emphasized the importance of the Committee’s work for informing other multilateral environmental agreements in the field of chemicals and waste management, adding that the Committee’s deliberations would inform the third session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) high-level global commitment to pollution in December 2017.

Bill Murray, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention, elaborated on the work of the FAO pesticides management team aimed at strengthening evidence-based decision making for sound chemicals management, highlighting the FAO Pesticide Registration Toolkit and support to countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. Stressing the importance of transparency, he called for capturing lessons from the review of individual notifications in order to improve guidance to ensure clear, coherent, and consistent decision making.

ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS

On Monday, Chair Helbig introduced, and the Committee adopted, the provisional agenda (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/1 and Add.1) and the organization of work, including the scenario note and the schedule for the meeting (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/1 and INF/2). On work and expectations for the current session, Helbig noted that the Committee would continue to review final notifications for atrazine; notifications for 12 new candidate chemicals; and two SHPF proposals.

REVIEW OF OUTCOME OF COP 8 RELEVANT TO THE CRC

On Thursday, the Secretariat provided a report of Rotterdam Convention COP-8, highlighting issues of relevance to the Committee (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/3), including the listing of carbofuran, SCCPs, TBT compounds, and trichlorfon, as recommended by the CRC.  

REVIEW OF THE OUTCOMES OF THE THIRTEENTH MEETING OF THE PERSISTENT ORGANIC POLLUTANTS REVIEW COMMITTEE

The Secretariat provided an oral report of the meeting, noting that two chemicals, dicofol and pentadecafluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and PFOA-related compounds, were recommended for listing, with additional work proposed for PFOA regarding possible specific exemptions. She reported that the Committee agreed that perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) and its salts and PFHxS-related compounds met Annex D screening criteria and a draft risk profile will be prepared.

ROTATION OF MEMBERSHIP

The Committee took note of the information provided by the Secretariat (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/4). Current members of the CRC are: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Cameroon, Canada, China, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Germany, Honduras, India, Madagascar, Malaysia, Moldova, Morocco, Niger, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Poland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, the Netherlands, the UK, Togo, Tonga, and Yemen.

On Thursday, the CRC confirmed Noluzuko Gwayi (South Africa) as interim CRC Chair pending her official appointment at CRC-14. Sun Jinye (China), Anahit Aleksandryan (Armenia), Norma Ethel Sbarbati Nudelman (Argentina) and Jeffery Goodman (Canada) were appointed as Vice-Chairs. 

TECHNICAL WORK

REPORT OF THE BUREAU ON THE PRELIMINARY REVIEW OF NOTIFICATIONS: On Monday, the Secretariat introduced the report of the Bureau (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/2), information on trade in chemicals under consideration (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/5), and a summary record of notifications previously reviewed and scheduled for review (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/6). CRC-12 Vice-Chair Magdalena Frydrych (Poland) reported on the preliminary review based on information available at the time. The Committee took note of the information.

REVIEW OF NOTIFICATIONS OF FINAL REGULATORY ACTION: Acetochlor: On Monday, Task Group Chair Malverne Spencer (Antigua and Barbuda) reported that the group found that all the notifications met all Annex II criteria (criteria for listing). Task Group Drafter Leonarda Christina van Leeuwen (the Netherlands) presented the task group’s conclusions. For the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) notifications, she highlighted conclusions that the final regulatory actions were based on a risk evaluation, although further information on operator exposure use is required. She drew attention to the studies used to inform the CILSS notification included a modeling study in Burkina Faso and a study of phytosanitary pressure exerted on lakes in Burkina Faso, which she said the group concluded fulfilled criterion b (iii) (risk evaluation based on scientific data in the context of prevailing conditions of use in the party). For the EU’s notification, she noted that the Secretariat provided information on ongoing trade.

She noted new information on the genotoxicity of a metabolite of acetochlor was available, and suggested that this information could be included. The Secretariat clarified that the DGD is based on the information provided by notifying parties regarding the basis of the final regulatory action. She reported that the annex to the DGD includes further relevant information from international reviews of the chemical and that information provided by parties may be submitted to the Secretariat for posting on the Rotterdam Convention website.

Madagascar, Poland and Norway said that all the notifications meet the Annex II criteria.

Canada observed that there is a lack of information on occupational exposure limits and suggested requesting this information to ensure that criterion b (iii) is met. Van Leeuwen suggested that the detailed information could be included in the draft DGD, but noted it would not change the conclusion that the criterion is met.

CropLife International said that the CILSS notifications did not provide the input parameters for the model, and suggested that, based on CRC Handbook Section 2.52, Scenario 3 (dealing with cases in which data are not provided but there is a reference to a source of data in the notification or in the supporting documentation), the Committee should conclude that criterion b (ii) (scientifically recognized methods) has not been met for those notifications.

Pesticides Action Network (PAN) underlined that all the notifications meet the criteria and had provided appropriate toxicological data. An observer from the US highlighted a lack of bridging information in the CILSS notifications to show information generated in the EU is relevant to the prevailing conditions of use in the CILSS countries, and she outlined key differences include crops, units of measurements, and geographic conditions.

Van Leeuwen suggested that even without the details on the model’s inputs the criteria would be met and reported that the study on sugar cane included in the CILSS notifications included information on the prevailing use in a Sahelian country.

CropLife International noted that the model used to conduct the evaluation in the CILSS country could only be used for a “first-tier screening,” and may not include inputs related to the prevailing conditions of use and therefore does not meet criterion b (iii).

An observer from South Africa noted that many African countries do not have official pesticide registries, underlined that the Rotterdam Convention requires risk evaluations, and stated that the risk evaluation criteria is met by the CILSS notification. Van Leeuwen noted, supported by Norway and Cameroon, that the model does identify the risks and therefore all the risk evaluation criteria are met.

An observer from the US called for bridging information to be included in the Committee’s rationale for the decision.

Noting no comments on the EU notification on acetochlor, Chair Helbig observed general agreement that the CILSS and EU notifications meet all the criteria. The Committee established a contact group to develop the rationale for the final regulatory action, chaired by Spencer.

On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced, and van Leeuwen presented the draft rationale for the conclusion by the CRC that the notifications from Africa and the EU meet the Annex II criteria for listing (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/CRP.18). The Secretariat introduced the draft decision recommending listing in Annex III (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/CRP.15) and draft work plan for the preparation of a draft DGD (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/CRP.21). The Committee adopted the rationale and draft decision and, later adopted the workplan for the preparation of a draft DGD when considering all intersessional work. Parvoleta Angelova Luleva (Germany) and van Leeuwen were appointed Chair and Vice-Chair of the intersessional working group to prepare the draft DGD.

Final Decision: In its final decision (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/CRP.15), the CRC: concludes that the notifications of final regulatory action for acetochlor submitted by the EU and Africa meet the criteria set out in Annex II to the Convention; adopts the rationale for the Committee’s conclusion; recommends that the COP should list acetochlor in Annex III to the Convention as a pesticide; and decides to prepare a draft DGD for acetochlor.

Atrazine: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the notifications of final regulatory action (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/4 and UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.11/5), supporting information provided by the EU (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.11/INF/9), supporting information provided by Cabo Verde, Chad, the Gambia, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.11/INF/10), report of CRC-11 (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.11/9), draft rationale for the conclusion of the CRC that the notifications submitted meet or do not meet the Annex II criteria (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.11/INF/12), and report of CRC-12 (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/9). She reported that there was no agreement at CRC-11 and CRC-12 on whether the notifications meet criterion b (iii) and that no new information had been received intersessionally.

India stated that no information had been received in two years and suggested removing this chemical from the CRC agenda. China proposed deferring a decision for another year. Canada and Australia called for taking a decision at this meeting. Norway and Poland suggested only revisiting this chemical if new information is made available by the notifying parties.

Chair Helbig proposed, and the Committee agreed, that atrazine would be considered in the future if additional information is made available. The Secretariat confirmed that this process was used for a notification of final regulatory action by the Netherlands for alachlor.

Carbon tetrachloride: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the notification of final regulatory action (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/5), the notification from Canada reviewed by CRC-1 (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/9) and supporting documentation provided by Jordan (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/10).

Task Group Chair Tatiana Tugui (Moldova) and Drafter Jeffery Goodman (Canada) presented the group’s report, highlighting the group’s conclusion that criterion b (iii) is not met because there is no bridging information to link the hazards identified to risks under prevailing conditions of use in Jordan.

An observer from Germany asked how the Task Group concluded that the final regulatory action led to reduced risks given that there is no clear trend showing a reduction in use. Goodman responded that the Task Group concluded that the criteria was met because the final regulatory action limited use to laboratory uses, for which demand could vary year-to-year.

The Committee agreed that the notification from Jordan does not meet Annex II criteria and that no further action would be taken at this time.

Chlordecone: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the notifications of final regulatory action (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/6), and supporting information from China, Japan, and Peru (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/11-13).

Task Group Drafter van Leeuwen presented the conclusions that the notifications from China and Japan meet all the criteria except b (iii) and that the notification from Peru does not meet criteria in Annex II (a) or (b). She noted that because this chemical has been listed under the Stockholm Convention for ten years, it was not possible to find evidence of ongoing trade, and, therefore the Task Group did not conclude if criterion c (iv) had been met. Canada said that if the Committee cannot rule out ongoing trade, then it should conclude that the criterion c (iv) was met. An observer from Germany recalled previous arguments on how to address the criteria, including that not all countries are parties to the Stockholm Convention and trade may be ongoing among them and that there may be stockpiles that could be traded.

The Committee agreed that none of the notifications met all the Annex II criteria and therefore no further action would be taken at this time.

Endosulfan: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the notifications of final regulatory action (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/7), notifications from the EU, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, the Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal reviewed by CRC-6 (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/14), and supporting documentation provided by Japan (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/15).

Task Group Chair Tugui introduced the work of the group. Task Group Drafter Goodman presented the conclusions, noting that COP-5 agreed to list endosulfan as a pesticide. He reported that there was no bridging information or evidence that a risk evaluation was undertaken and, therefore, that the Task Group concluded that criterion b (iii) was not met.

The Committee agreed that the notification from Japan does not meet the Annex II criteria and that no further action would be taken on endosulfan as an industrial chemical at this time.

Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD): On Monday, the Secretariat introduced the notifications (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/8), supporting information provided by Japan (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/17/Rev.2), and supporting information provided by Norway (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/18). Task Group Chair Tugui introduced the work of the group. Task Group Drafter Goodman presented notifications from China, Japan and Norway, highlighting that the notifications from Norway and Japan, after receiving additional information, meet the Annex II criteria, but the notification from China does not meet the risk evaluation criterion b (iii). He reported new information from Japan that a risk evaluation had been conducted, and noted that the Task Group proposed listing HBCD in Annex III based on the notifications from Japan and Norway.

On the Japanese notification, Norway said the Annex II criteria had been met. She said sufficient environmental risk information based on monitoring had been provided, and that the POPRC’s risk profile included several studies and information on leaching, exposure, and evidence of contamination in human breast milk.

The US expressed concern that the information necessary to make a decision regarding Japan’s notification was not made available before the meeting, and called for decisions to be made in a transparent manner. Japan clarified their two-step reclassification system, saying that action was taken based on hazardous POP identification. He added that, because HBCD is on the market in Japan, a risk evaluation was conducted.

The UK agreed that Japan had conducted a quantitative risk evaluation.

International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) welcomed the risk evaluation by Japan saying it had been validated and emphasized that POPs listed in the Stockholm Convention with specific exemptions should be recommended for listing under the Rotterdam Convention. An observer from the US stated that the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions have legal autonomy and were designed and negotiated for different purposes so listing under the Stockholm Convention is not, in itself, a reason to consider listing under the Rotterdam Convention.

On Norway’s notification, Cameroon asked why HBCD was still in use for extended and extruded polystyrene. The observer from Norway noted that this corresponds to the five-year specific exemption agreed to by parties to the Stockholm Convention.

The Committee observed general agreement that the notifications from Norway and Japan meet the criteria and established a contact group to develop the rationale, co-chaired by Tugui and Goodman.

On Wednesday, the contact group Co-Chairs presented the draft rationale noting that the notification from Japan and Norway meet the Annex II criteria (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/CRP.17). The Secretariat introduced the draft decision recommending listing in Annex III (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/CRP.16) and draft workplan for the preparation of a DGD (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/CRP.21).

The Committee adopted the rationale, draft decision and workplan. Jeffery Goodman, (Canada) and Arsonina Bera (Madagascar) were elected Chair and Vice-Chair for the intersessional drafting group to prepare a DGD for HBCD.

Final Decision: In its final decision (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/CRP.16), the CRC: concludes that the notifications of final regulatory action for HBCD submitted by Japan and Norway meet the criteria set out in Annex II to the Convention; adopts the rationale for the Committee’s conclusion; recommends that the COP should list HBCD in Annex III to the Convention as an industrial chemical; and decides to prepare a DGD for HBCD.

Hexazinone: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the notification of final regulatory action (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/9), supporting information provided by Norway (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/19) and supporting documentation provided by Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Chad, the Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/20).

Task Group Chair Amal Lemsioui (Morocco) and drafter Marit Randall (Norway) presented the group’s conclusions. On Norway’s notification, Randall reported that subsequent discussions raised questions on criterion b (iii). For the CILSS notifications, Randall reported that discussions raised concerns regarding all parts of criteria b, including that, for b (iii), the Sahelian countries based their decision in part on a Canadian study that recommended using buffer zones as a management option, but the Sahelian countries concluded that buffer zones were not a viable management option in the Sahel. However, she said no bridging information linked the risks under conditions of use.

On Norway’s notification, the Netherlands expressed concern that the notification does not explain why exposure levels reported from a published study are relevant for Norway, and that the notification does not conclude that the persistence value poses unacceptable risks. Randall responded that the first regulatory action was undertaken in 1992, which limits the availability of information, but she said that the exposure value was taken as a potential exposure estimate that could indicate a concentration that could kill algae.

India stated that there is a lack of bridging information linking the valuation of toxicity to algae to conditions in Norway.

The Committee agreed that the notification from Norway did not meet Annex II criteria, and no further action was required.

With regard to the CILSS countries’ notification, Canada stressed the need for bridging information, which had not been provided. India noted that supporting documentation provides information based on a literature review and not on actual risk evaluation. Supporting Canada and India, Norway noted that information on prevailing conditions is minimal and so criterion b (iii) could not be confirmed to have been met, and, with the observer from the US, emphasized the need for clear reference to bridging and strong links to other countries’ evaluations.

The Committee agreed that notifications from the Sahelian countries do not meet the criteria in Annex II. He added that both notifications do not meet the criteria under Annex II, so there would be no further action on the chemical at the current time.

Mirex: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the notifications of final regulatory action (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/10), the notification from Canada previously reviewed by the CRC and the rationale for its conclusion (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/21), supporting documentation provided by Canada (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/22), and supporting information provided by Colombia (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/23). Task Group Chair Magdalena Frydrych (Poland) thanked the group for their work. Task Group drafter Johanna Peltola-Thies (UK) presented on notifications from Canada and Colombia, noting that Canada had submitted a notification that CRC-2 had agreed met the criteria and had submitted a new notification based on an updated final regulatory action that the task group agreed meets all Annex II criteria. This was supported by India.

On the Colombian notification, Frydrych noted that the Task Group found that the b (iii) criterion had not been met. Norway noted that the precautionary principle had been inferred by Colombia, and no information had been provided on mirex levels in Colombia.

Commenting on criterion c (iv) (evidence of ongoing trade), Australia queried how the criterion had been met, given there had been no evidence of ongoing trade because mirex has been listed in Annex A of the Stockholm Convention (elimination). The US suggested including language clarifying that no evidence was found, but that the Committee still concluded that ongoing trade is possible.

Chair Helbig proposed, and the Committee agreed, to establish a contact group to develop the rationale, co-chaired by Frydrych and Peltola-Thies.

On Wednesday, the Committee noted agreement that Canada’s revised notification met Annex II criteria. Frydrych and Peltola-Thies presented the draft rationale (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/CRP.20). The Secretariat introduced the draft decision (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/CRP.19), which the Committee adopted.

Final Decision: In its final decision (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/CRP.19), the CRC: concludes that the new notification of final regulatory action for mirex submitted by Canada meets the criteria set out in Annex II to the Convention; adopts the rationale for the Committee’s conclusion on the notification for mirex submitted by Canada; and notes that, as only one notification of final regulatory action in respect of mirex meets the criteria set out in Annex II to the Convention, it will take no further action on the chemical at present.

Pentachlorobenzene (PeCB): The Secretariat introduced the notifications of final regulatory action (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/11), the notification from Canada reviewed by the CRC (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/24), and supporting documentation provided by China (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/25). Task Group Chair Frydrych presented the Task Group report, reporting that notifications from Japan and Canada for PeCB as an industrial chemical had been reviewed at CRC-7 and CRC-9, respectively, with only Canada’s notification being found to have met the criteria. She noted that China had submitted a notification for PeCB as a pesticide. She noted that it does not meet criterion b (iii) as it does not provide information on prevailing conditions.

The Committee then agreed that no further action would be taken on PeCB as it did not have notifications from at least two PIC regions.

Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), its salts and perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride (PFOSF): On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced a note on notifications of final regulatory actions (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/12), notifications from Canada, the EU and Japan reviewed by the CRC (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/26), and supporting documentation provided by China (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/27). Task Group Drafter Peltola-Thies presented the conclusions noting that the POPRC risk profile was the only assessment used and there was no risk evaluation, which the task group concluded did not meet criterion b (iii). China confirmed that in preparing the final regulatory action it did not undertake a risk evaluation, and, supported by India and Germany, said that criterion b (iii) had not been met.

The Committee concluded that no further action on the chemical would be taken.

Phorate: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the notifications of final regulatory action (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/13), notification from Canada reviewed by the CRC (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/28) and supporting information provided by Brazil (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/29). Task Group Chair Frydrych reported that the group concluded that all of the criteria were met.

India observed that the notification includes references to exposure studies in other countries, but he said it lacks bridging information to conditions of use in Brazil and, therefore, criterion b (iii) is not met.

The Netherlands said that the notification states that there is a national policy in Brazil that prohibits certain types of chemicals based on their properties, including hormonal disruption, and the notification states that phorate has endocrine disruption properties. Canada noted that the Handbook states that direct measurements and field studies are not necessary when there is such a national policy.

Frydrych reported that the Task Group viewed the studies regarding exposure in India as being conducted under the same conditions of use in Brazil, adding that this was a good example of bridging information.

An observer from the US questioned if the final regulatory action was based on a risk evaluation, given that it was taken in 2014 and the risk evaluation was completed in 2015. The Netherlands and Frydrych confirmed that the final regulatory action was taken in 2015.

An observer from the US observed that the notification states that the domestic evaluation did not include direct exposure studies in Brazil because, as of 2012, there was not any use of phorate in the country making it difficult to bridge from the exposure information derived from India. She noted that, in cases where exposure could be expected, national policies could overcome the need for a risk evaluation. She called on the Committee to clearly indicate this in the rationale.

India reiterated that there was no bridging information provided and that criterion b (iii) was not met.

The Committee established a Friends of the Chair group to discuss whether criterion b (iii) had been met. On Wednesday, Frydrych reported that the Friends of the Chair identified relevant guidance from the CRC Handbook. She clarified the timeline of the final regulatory action, that the evaluation started in 2008, registrations were withdrawn in 2014, and the evaluation was completed in 2015, which informed the ban implemented in 2015. Regarding criterion b (iii), she reported that the group identified as relevant pages 59-60 in the Handbook, which outline that pesticides with defined hazard classifications may be subject to a national policy based on the understanding that the prevailing conditions of use will result in an unacceptable risk to workers or the environment, meaning that field measurements are not necessary. She also reported that the group concluded that the notification includes information that shows it is toxic to humans and high exposure of farmers could not be avoided based on the conditions of use in Brazil.

An observer from the US said the rationale should clearly stipulate how the Committee interprets the Handbook guidance regarding national policies for pesticides with defined hazard classifications.

Canada and the Netherlands agreed that the rationale should clarify this point.

The Committee agreed to establish a contact group to develop the draft rationale. On Thursday morning, Frydrych presented the draft rationale (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/CRP.23) and reported on contact group deliberations. The UK expressed her concern that the contact group had adjourned without having concluded its work. Canada, supported by an observer from the US, relayed their understanding that the group had worked in a constructive manner and had successfully concluded its work.

The Netherlands, supported by the UK, proposed including language from the notification that “the Committee noted that Brazilian law states that pesticides may have their registration canceled in the country where they fall under the following conditions related to human health: when they have no antidote or effective treatment in Brazil; if found to be teratogenic, mutagenic or carcinogenic; if they cause hormonal disturbances and damage the reproductive system; or if they are more dangerous to humans than demonstrated in tests with laboratory animals.” Canada noted that he could support this inclusion because the contact group agreed that the national legislation related to the World Health Organization (WHO) classification would not be part of the rationale for listing.

A drafting group was established to finalize the draft rationale. The observer from the US expressed disappointment that this work was referred to a closed group. In the afternoon, the CRC agreed on the revised draft rationale (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/CRP.24) and adopted the draft decision (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/CRP.22).

The UK expressed thanks to the Task Group Chair, the Secretariat, members and observers, expressing confidence in the work to be done intersessionally, noting that trust in the Secretariat remains high. 

Peltola-Thies and Jack Holland (Australia) were elected Chair and Vice-Chair for the intersessional drafting group on phorate.

Final Decision: In its decision (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/CRP.22), the CRC: concludes the notification of final regulatory action for phorate submitted by Brazil meets the criteria set out in Annex II to the Convention; adopts the rationale for the Committee’s conclusion; recommends that the COP should list phorate in Annex III to the Convention as a pesticide; and decides to prepare a draft DGD for phorate.

Polychlorinated Naphthalenes (PCNs): On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced a note on notifications of final regulatory actions on PCNs in the industrial chemicals category from Japan (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/14) and supporting documentation from Japan (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/31) and Canada (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/30). Task Group Chair Tugui introduced the report. Task Group drafter Goodman presented the report explaining that Canada had previously submitted a notification, which CRC-10 agreed met Annex II criteria. He explained that Japan’s notification is based on the persistence, bioaccumulation, toxicity, and long-term transport, with the regulatory action being put in place to reduce human exposure to the substance.

Goodman explained that the Task Group had initially concluded that the notification of final regulatory action from Japan met Annex II criteria, but that conclusions were subsequently bracketed due to a lack of understanding on how the regulatory action in Japan was taken. Japan clarified that listing was the result of the substance being listed under the Stockholm Convention and a risk evaluation of prevailing conditions in the country was not conducted (criterion b (iii)).

The Committee concluded that Japan’s notification does not meet criterion b (iii) so no further action would be taken on the chemical at the current time.

Triazophos: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the notifications of final regulatory action (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/15), supporting information provided by Malaysia (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/32), and supporting information provided by Cabo Verde, Chad, the Gambia, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/33). Task Group Chair Lemsioui introduced the group’s work. Task Group Drafter Randall presented its conclusions, including that the notification from Malaysia did not meet criteria a, b, or c. For the notifications from the CILSS countries, she said that the group concluded that based on the rationale cited for final regulatory action, the little information on use in CILSS countries, and the lack of a link between the conditions in CILSS countries and the conditions that led to a ban in the EU, criteria b (ii) (scientifically recognized methods) and (iii) were not met.

India pointed out that it is not clear what risk triggered the regulatory act and that, without bridging information, criteria b (ii) and (iii) were not met. Canada, the Netherlands and Poland said that criterion b (ii) could be met, given the qualitative information provided, but agreed criterion b (iii) was not met.

The Committee agreed that the notifications from Malaysia and CILSS countries did not meet Annex II criteria and, therefore, no further action would be taken at this time.

REVIEW OF PROPOSALS FOR THE INCLUSION OF SHPFs IN ANNEX III: Lambda-cyhalothrin emulsifiable concentrate (EC) 50 g/L: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the note from the Secretariat on lambda-cyhalothrin EC 50 g/L (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/16), including a proposal from Georgia to list lambda-cyhalothrin EC as a SHPF in Annex III, and information gathered by the Secretariat (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/34/Rev.2). Task Group Chair Luleva introduced the work of the Group, noting that there were no comments received by members during the intersessional period. Task Group Drafter Jack Holland presented the Group’s conclusions that all criteria in Annex IV (information and criteria for listing SPHFs) were met, although criteria under Annex IV, part 3 (d) (significance of reported effects in relation to quantity of the formulation used) was not agreed. He reported that the Task Group concluded that the symptoms reported in eight incident reports identified in a 2016 survey, conducted by PAN, were linked to intoxication with the specific formulation: Karate 5 EC, including that the symptoms for five incidents occurred within five hours and two between five and 12 hours.

Holland reported several poisoning and exposure incidents from neighboring countries, as well as Canada, Germany, and Switzerland, which led the group to conclude there is relevance of such incidents to other countries. On criteria under Annex IV, part 3 (c) (handling or applicator restrictions involving technology or techniques that may not be reasonably or widely applied in states lacking necessary infrastructure), he reported that safety instructions were not on the translated labels, and that the reported intoxications occurred under the prevailing conditions of use in Georgia, where effective personal protection equipment can be difficult to obtain.

On the part 3 (d) criterion, he reported that, based on the incident reports in relation to applying the pesticide to crops at an average rate of 0.4-0.5L using backpack sprayers and/or brooms and brushes, the Task Group had not been able to conclude if the criterion was met.

Recalling that the Convention defines a SHPF as a formulated chemical that produces severe health or environmental effects, India said that none of the reported incidents showed severe effects. He expressed concern that the proposal is based on a retrospective survey conducted by PAN and that less than a third of the respondents reported use of lambda-cyhalothrin products. He added that the frequency of reported incidents is lower than what would be expected given the frequency of use. He concluded that there is no evidence that the Karate 5 EC formulation poses a problem warranting global action.

Norway queried the absence of specific intoxication dates. Luleva responded that it was difficult to report on the exact dates as the study was retrospective, and questioned whether this information is obligatory.

The Netherlands highlighted that there are a number of tools for measuring the severity of effects, requested clarification on whether it is within the mandate of the CRC to reinterpret information on severity, and called for discussions to clarify this issue.

Canada called for further discussion on severity of effects, given the information submitted by PAN.

The UK requested further information on exposure and causality, and urged the Committee to address the significant effects related to both lambda-cyhalothrin formulations in the same manner.

 Tonga said the severity of the health effects depends on the degree of exposure, and supported the proposal. Thailand reported cases of poisoning from this formulation in her country, adding that all the cases had been successfully treated. Luleva noted that Article 6 (procedures for SHPFs) only calls on developing countries and countries with economies in transition to report problems related to SHPFs, highlighting that these countries do not always have the capacity to report severity data. Holland said that the criteria does not require severity of effects to be specified, noting that severity is only mentioned in Article 2 (definitions) as part of the SHPF definition.

Cameroon said the proposal needed more work before it could be considered. Moldova highlighted improper use of the formulation by the farmers concerned.

An observer from the US noted that one fatal incident initially linked to lambda-cyhalothrin EC reported in her country was proven to be an allergic reaction, and highlighted the need for detailed information on the formulations in order to provide support for the significance effects required under part 3(d).

An observer from PAN noted that: there is no unique international scoring system for severity, but that using one of the WHO scoring systems for severity, the individual effects were moderate, but added together they were considered as severe also because they lasted several days; hospital notifications “do not work” in Georgia due to their cost; and that it is difficult to prove a causal link.

Reiterating their call for guidance on SHPF listing, CropLife International did not support the proposal, noting that it does not meet criteria from part 3 (d), and stating that all the effects were mild based on the WHO scoring system. An observer from India also noted that criteria from part 3 (d) had not been met.

PAN drew attention to the fact that the WHO has multiple scoring systems, and said that industry “expects this level of poisoning” from this formulation. Opposing this, CropLife International said that the industry “would never intentionally place hazardous formulations” on the market.

The UK noted that the same information was used to list carbofuran as an SHPF in Annex III at CRC-12. She also pointed out that it was not possible to assess whether criterion under part 3 (d) has been met. Tonga noted the extent of use and enquired about the actual impact of the pesticide. Poland proposed postponing consideration of this formulation until CRC-14.

Chair Helbig requested members to consider concluding that on the basis of available information the Committee is not able to conclude that all criteria are met. Later, he clarified that his proposal was that the CRC would conclude that it was unable to decide that the criteria were met for the EC formulation and that the formulation would be set aside until new information is available.

Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, and Germany requested intersessional work. An observer from South Africa suggested sending a request to the proposing party for information.

The UK suggested discussing the formulation at CRC-14, noting that borderline cases such as this one require more time. Chair Helbig responded that there would not be enough time for further discussion at this meeting.

Chair Helbig proposed requesting the Secretariat to compile information on past experiences of SHPF proposals as a “first step.” An observer from the US clarified that any interpretation of the definition of an SHPF would have to be agreed to by the COP.

The Committee decided that it could not, on the basis of currently available information, conclude that the Annex IV criteria are met and to revisit this formulation if additional information is made available. It further requested the Secretariat to collect information on relevant past experiences for discussion at the next CRC meeting.

Lambda-cyhalothrin capsule suspension (CS) 50 g/L: On Wednesday, Task Group Drafter Holland introduced a review of proposals for the inclusion of lambda-cyhalothrin CS in Annex III (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/17 and INF/35/Rev.2). He reported that the exposure related to several incidents, experienced by the same person, over several months, and that no personal protection had been used. He added that intoxication occurred under prevailing conditions of use in Georgia, but that the criterion under part 3 (d) is not met.

India noted the lack of information regarding effects, exposure and relevance of such incidents to other states with similar climate, conditions and patterns of use of the formulation (Annex IV part 3, (b)). Canada, Norway, Poland, and the UK supported the Task Group’s conclusions.

The Committee noted general agreement that the proposal from Georgia does not meet all criteria, especially criteria under Annex IV part 3 (d), and therefore no further action would be taken on the substance at the current time.

UPDATES TO THE HANDBOOK OF WORKING PROCEDURES AND POLICY GUIDANCE FOR THE CHEMICAL REVIEW COMMITTEE

The Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/18), and comments and further information related to the draft revision of the Handbook (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/INF/36). Intersessional Task Group Chair Randall introduced the report, and Vice-Chair Holland reported the Group’s results noting that the mandate was to revise section 1.7 by adding SHPFs, and update section 2.5 on application of criteria b of Annex II. He noted the addition of a new template to the guidance, and that section 2.5 had been revised by adding two further examples on the Brazilian notification of methamidophos into those incidents involving direct exposure to humans and the Sahelian notification on endosulfan to those incidents involving direct exposure of the environment. He said that comments were received from 13 intersessional task group members, and said that there is still a need for an accurate description of the process to consider SHPF under Annex IV. He highlighted that observers being added formally to intersessional task groups was not accepted as this is still under discussion at the COP.

An observer from the US noted that the Convention states that adequate information must be provided for Annex IV (on listing SHPFs), and the form specifies proposed lengths for the information provided for the criteria. She suggested adding language to encourage adequate information be provided. Australia clarified that the proposed lengths were intended to avoid duplication.

The Committee adopted the working paper without amendment.

On future updates to the Handbook, the Secretariat proposed two sections to be updated based on experience at this meeting. She outlined the proposed sections as: Section 1.4 on the process for determining evidence of ongoing international trade; and Section 2.6 on guidance for when a chemical under consideration is a POP listed in the Stockholm Convention.

CropLife International suggested that experience from CRC-9 and CRC-10 on lead carbonate and lead arsenate would be useful to include regarding evidence of ongoing international trade.

The Committee agreed to request the Secretariat to update Sections 1.7 and 2.5 of the Handbook.

VENUE AND DATE OF THE FOURTEENTH MEETING OF THE COMMITTEE

On Thursday, the CRC agreed that CRC-14 will be held from 10-14 September 2018, at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy. The Secretariat noted that this meeting would occur before the POPRC meeting.

OTHER MATTERS

The Secretariat provided an oral report of activities to facilitate effective participation in the work of the CRC. She highlighted two briefing webinars for CRC and POPRC, as well as online training modules, awareness raising on listing and an upcoming workshop to enhance participation, and an orientation workshop for new CRC members in April 2018.

Cameroon noted the immense amount of information provided to the Committee before this meeting, stating that it was not feasible for delegates to have gone through it all. Madagascar highlighted technological obstacles to participation in webinars. South Africa emphasized the need for each PIC region to ensure the competency of their members and for members to participate effectively in the CRC.

The Secretariat responded that the intention of the orientation workshop was to ensure handover of knowledge and procedures between Committee members. She said that webinars are one tool that complement other activities and that efforts were being made to address technological challenges. The CRC took note of the information provided.

CLOSURE OF THE MEETING

On Thursday afternoon, the Secretariat introduced the draft report (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.13/L.1) and the Committee adopted it with minor amendments.

In his closing remarks, Carlos Martin-Novella, Deputy Executive Secretary, BRS Conventions, commended the Committee for setting new standards in terms of efficiency and thanked participants for their substantive contributions. Acknowledging Chair Helbig for his contribution to the process, Bill Murray, FAO, Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention, noted that the Committee had risen to the challenge in the face of the unprecedented workload, which had resulted in two pesticides and one industrial chemical being recommended for listing.

On behalf of the Committee, Magdalena Frydrych expressed her appreciation to Chair Helbig for his substantive support. Noluzuko Gwayi conveyed her thanks to all those who had contributed to the work of the Committee during the intersessional period, highlighting improvements in the number of notifications, and expressed thanks for her election as interim CRC Chair.

Chair Helbig expressed confidence in the continuing work of the Committee and wished participants success, thanked the Secretariat for their support, and closed the meeting at 5:41 pm.

A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF CRC-13

Delegates arrived at the thirteenth meeting of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC-13) facing the heaviest agenda in the history of the Committee. In recent years, the number of notifications of regulatory action had dwindled, meaning that the Committee recommended fewer chemicals for inclusion under the prior informed consent (PIC) Procedure of the Rotterdam Convention. CRC-13 reversed this trend, with 13 chemicals and two severely hazardous pesticide formulations (SHPFs) under consideration.

This brief analysis considers how the Committee handled its heavy agenda so efficiently, even concluding its work a day early, and explores the rationale and implications of members’ decisions to recommend listing three chemicals for inclusion in the PIC Procedure, but also to not act further on several other chemicals, including the SHPF proposals.

AT CAPACITY

As Executive Secretary Bill Murray, FAO, commented in his opening statement, the size of the agenda was “unprecedented.” Only CRC-1 had a comparable agenda, with 14 substances in total, one less than CRC-13 took on. For these 13 chemicals, the members faced 19 new notifications of final regulatory action in addition to the two SHPF proposals.

Many commented on the high number of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) on the agenda, comprising over half the agenda. This is the result of parties following their obligations under both the Stockholm Convention on POPs and the Rotterdam Convention: first, by passing national legislation to eliminate or restrict a chemical listed in the Stockholm Convention; then by notifying their action according to Article 6 of the Rotterdam Convention. There was debate at CRC-13 regarding the added value of listing POPs in the Rotterdam Convention, particularly for the original “dirty dozen” POPs such a mirex that is widely considered out of use. In the end, the Committee only agreed that notifications for one POP, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), met the criteria. This means that countries will have more information when importing HBCD for its allowed use in extended and extruded polystyrene insulation.

The other POPs failed to meet the criteria specifying that their regulatory action was based on a risk evaluation involving prevailing conditions of use within the country, highlighting the complementary, but different, roles of the two sibling conventions. One observer routinely reminded delegates that the global risks identified for the purposes of the Stockholm Convention “are insufficient for the Rotterdam Convention,” which is designed to alert countries to chemicals that their trade partners have taken regulatory action upon based on their domestic experience. In light of this trend, one member wondered if the Committee’s agenda would continue to be populated by POPs that, because of the differing designs of the Conventions, will often, and perhaps by design, fail to meet the criteria.

The growing number of notifications of POPs did not, in the end, significantly affect the work of the Committee. In intersessional work, task groups reviewed the information against the criteria and the resulting reports were reviewed in pre-meetings by most members and observers before the meeting. This increased the efficiency of the work considerably. At the meeting, all the work that remained for most POPs-related notifications was to present the task group report, ensure transparency, and then agree to the group’s conclusions.

Despite the mechanisms in place to facilitate efficiency, the agenda in some ways proved cumbersome, as several members remarked on the workload, with some intimating that it may have influenced the ability of members to adequately address one of the largest dossiers, for the SHPF proposal for lambda-cyhalothrin emulsifiable concentrate (EC) 50 g/L. Some members referred to the proposal as a “borderline” case, as the Committee debated if the formulation fulfilled the criterion related to the significance of the effects connected to the quantity of the formulation used, and whether the effects reported in the incident reports contained in the proposals were indeed “severe.” Some members thought that, given the conditions and extent of use, the effects were not severe while others, especially observers, said the effects involved multiple parts of the body, which would have cumulative effects on an individual. Many thought that the Convention’s definition of an SHPF and the criteria regarding significance of the effects was insufficiently clear to make a decision. The Convention defines a SHPF as a formulation “that produces severe health or environmental effects observable within a short period of time after exposure.” While some observers wanted more consideration of lambda-cyhalothrin EC at this meeting, or, at least, the inclusion of the proposal on the next meeting’s agenda, the Committee concluded that it would discuss this proposal again only if additional information becomes available.

Some members cited the lack of time available to prepare for and discuss the information, and also cited the considerable time that SHPF proposals often take. For previous proposals on fenthion and paraquat, contact groups worked for days before agreeing that these proposals met the criteria. Many members felt that several more days, far beyond the one day left on the agenda, would be required to effectively deal with this formulation.

HAVING CAPACITY

CRC-13 proved that the body has the capacity to handle the increased work load that many members had hoped would materialize as more parties notify their final regulatory actions. In one member’s words, the Committee has “evolved” into a more transparent, receptive body with robust discussion drawing on past experience, which facilitates its ability to apply the Convention’s criteria to more notifications.

Observers are part of the Committee’s capacity. As little as five years ago, the CRC faced criticism that it was an opaque body that conducted its work in drafting groups that were closed even to observers from parties. Over time, the Committee opened its process to observers, who participated extensively at CRC-13. Observers from Japan and Brazil spoke up to clarify their notifications, which helped the Committee recommend listing hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) and phorate. The observer from the US also provided clarity on information related to lambda cyhalothrin EC poisoning incidents cited in the Georgian proposal, which, in part, weakened the notification, as the incident reported in the US had actually been linked to other health concerns. Other observers raised concerns that some of this information arrived at the start of, and not prior to, the meeting, providing little time for scrutiny. While these observers see more room to grow in terms of transparency, several members thought that the “right balance” had finally been struck to allow observers to provide information useful to the Committee’s work, while keeping decision making with members.

In members’ work, their ability to draw on past practice in terms of individuals’ institutional member and particularly the CRC Handbook, further facilitated their efficiency. The Handbook is a compilation of working procedures and policy guidance developed in order to learn from past experience and guide future decision making. For phorate, the Handbook was particularly useful, although members faced the dilemma of creating precedents as they worked through the possible guidance in the Handbook that could serve as the basis of their rationale for ultimately concluding that Brazil’s notification met the criteria. The task group could not conclude whether the Brazilian notification was based on a risk evaluation, a key, but often difficult criterion to meet. There was no evidence of exposure in Brazil and no “bridging information,” that is, information that shows that the risks and exposure experienced elsewhere are likely to occur in the prevailing conditions of use in the notifying country. Often, this could mean that the criterion would not be met. One option in the Handbook was a section stating that pesticides with defined hazard classifications may be subject to national policy that bans their registration because of unacceptable risk. Some Committee members thought this could apply to phorate, because phorate is classified by the WHO as acutely toxic. The Committee decided not to use this guidance as the rationale for its decision, as some members and observers cited a lack of clarity in the Handbook regarding what hazard classification schemes should be considered. While the Handbook cites the WHO hazard classification 1a and 1b as examples of classifications, the wording in the Handbook was viewed by many to be open for interpretation. The Committee decided not to use this piece of guidance in their rationale, because some worried that the lack of clarity in the Handbook could lead to approving future notifications without a risk evaluation or bridging information, but instead state that the final regulatory act was taken due to a national, or not internationally-agreed, hazard classification. Some worried the precedent could write a “blank check” for notifications to bypass the criterion for a risk evaluation.

Instead, the Committee set another precedent in its use of the Handbook to develop the rationale for why Brazil’s notification met the criteria for a risk evaluation. The Committee used the Handbook’s guidance that outlines that information on personal protective equipment (PPE) could be used as sufficient bridging information for acutely toxic chemicals. The Brazilian notification relays that farmers often do not use PPE because it is expensive and unsuitable for working in the country’s hot climate. This led the Committee to conclude that the notification met the criteria. One member believed this was the first time this section of the Handbook was used as the sole source of bridging information. Some thought this precedent could influence other listings, showing the possible influence the Handbook could have on members’ work. Others noted that phorate may be a special case because the exposure risks are widely known, which decreased the need for additional studies of exposure risks, and facilitated the focus on PPE and prevailing conditions of use.

Given the value of the Handbook in guiding phorate discussions, many welcomed the emerging guidance on SHPFs approved at this meeting, with one member and an observer noting that yet further guidance could have helped lambda-cyhalothrin EC discussions. Many called for the development of additional guidance on the consideration of SHPF proposals, citing the vast differences among previous proposals, including between fenthion, where there was a death shortly after exposure, and paraquat, where 53 men experienced a range of symptoms such as nausea, coughing, headaches, and skin burns. The compilation of previous CRC considerations of SHPF proposals was welcomed as a first step, although many noted that any interpretation of the Convention would require the COP’s guidance and approval. This could take several years, and thus might potentially delay future SHPF proposals where the severity of the effects are in question.

FUTURE CAPACITY

The chemicals agreed to at CRC-13 will be considered for inclusion in the PIC Procedure at the next COP in 2019. Nearly half of the CRC members’ terms will end in the coming year, leaving new and returning members at CRC-14 to sort through the notifications received, and draft decision guidance documents prepared, during the intersessional period. Some worried about the loss of institutional memory of many outgoing members, making the task for new members more difficult. Yet, many left Rome hopeful that the increased role of observers and documentation of experiences in the Handbook will help guide the Committee as it continues to support the Rotterdam Convention in its effort to help countries make informed decisions in international trade in chemicals.

UPCOMING MEETINGS

38th SETAC North American Annual Meeting: The theme of the 38th SETAC North American Annual Meeting is “Toward a Superior Future: Balancing Chemical Use and Ecosystem Health.” This meeting will consist of lectures and presentations on landmark scientific research, professional training opportunities, and networking to promote new collaborations. Conference participation is expected to be a mix of academia, industry and government agencies.  dates: 12-16 November 2017  location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, US  contact: SETAC North America Office  phone: +1-850-469-1500  fax: +1-888-296-4136  email: setac@setac.org  www: https://msp.setac.org/

29th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol: The Joint 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention and the 29th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol is scheduled to consider HFC management, implementation, and other matters.  dates: 20-24 November 2017  location: Montreal, Canada  contact: Ozone Secretariat  phone: +254-20-762-3851  fax: +254-20-762-0335  email: ozone.info@unep.org  www: http://ozone.unep.org

53rd Meeting of the GEF Council: The GEF Council will approve projects to realize global environmental benefits in the GEF’s focal areas, provide guidance to the GEF Secretariat and implementing agencies, and discuss its relations with the conventions for which it serves as the financial mechanism. In addition, the 23rd Least Developed Countries Fund and the Special Climate Change Fund Council Meeting will be held on Thursday, 30 November. On Monday, 27 November, there will be a consultation with civil society organizations. dates: 28-30 November 2017  location: Washington DC, US  contact: GEF Secretariat  phone: +1-202-473-0508  fax: +1-202-522- 3240/3245  email: secretariat@thegef.org  www: www.thegef.org/events/53rd-gef-council-meeting

UN Environment Assembly (UNEA): The third meeting of the Assembly, with the overarching theme of pollution, aims to deliver a number of tangible commitments to end the pollution of air, land, waterways, and oceans, and to safely manage chemicals and waste. Four events will take place in Nairobi in conjunction with the Assembly, including the Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum (27-28 November), the Open-ended Meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (29 November - 1 December), Science, Policy and Business Forum (2-3 December), and Sustainable Innovation Expo (4-6 December).  dates: 4-6 December 2017  location: Nairobi, Kenya  contact: UN Environment Secretariat  phone: +254-20-762-1234  email: beatpollution@unenvironment.org  www: www.unep.org/environmentassembly/assembly

SAICM Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting for the 2nd Meeting of the Intersessional Process: This regional meeting of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) is tentatively scheduled to convene in 2018 in preparation for the second meeting of the SAICM intersessional process on the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020.  dates: 23-26 January 2018  location: to be announced  contact: SAICM Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8273  fax: +41-22-797-3460  email: Brenda.koekkoek@unep.org  www: www.saicm.org

SAICM Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Meeting for the 2nd Meeting of the Intersessional Process: This regional meeting is tentatively scheduled to convene in 2018 in preparation for the second meeting of the SAICM intersessional process on the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020.  dates: 29 January-1 February 2018  location: Panama City, Panama  contact: SAICM Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8273  fax: +41-22-797-3460  email: Brenda.koekkoek@unep.org  www: http://www.saicm.org

SAICM African Regional Meeting for the 2nd Meeting of the Intersessional Process: This regional meeting is tentatively scheduled to convene in 2018 in preparation for the second meeting of the SAICM intersessional process on the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020.  dates: 6-9 February 2018  location: Abidjan, Ivory Coast  contact: SAICM Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8273  fax: +41-22-797-3460  email: Brenda.koekkoek@unep.org  www: http://www.saicm.org

Second meeting for SAICM intersessional process and the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020: This meeting is tentatively scheduled to convene in 2018 in advance of the second meeting of the SAICM Open-ended Working Group (OEWG).  dates: March 2018 (tentative)  location: to be announced  contact: SAICM Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8273  fax: +41-22-797-3460  email: saicm.chemicals@unep.org  www: http://www.saicm.org

Fourteenth Meeting of the Rotterdam Convention Chemical Review Committee: The Chemical Review Committee (CRC13) will review chemicals and pesticide formulations for possible listing under Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention.  dates: 10-14 September 2018  location: Rome, Italy  contact: BRS Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8218  fax: +41-22-917-8098  email: brs@brsmeas.org  www: http://www.pic.int

Fourteenth meeting of the COP to the Basel Convention, the ninth meeting of the COP to the Rotterdam Convention and the ninth meeting of the COP to the Stockholm Convention: These meetings are scheduled to convene back-to-back in 2019.  dates: 29 April-10 May 2019  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: BRS Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8729  fax: +41-22-917-8098  email: brs@brsmeas.org  www: http://www.basel.int , http://www.pic.int , http://www.pops.int , http://synergies.pops.int

For additional meetings, see http://sdg.iisd.org

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