Summary report, 14–16 September 2016
12th Meeting of the Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical Review Committee (CRC-12)
The twelfth meeting of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC-12) to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade took place from 14-16 September 2016 in Rome, Italy. Over 85 participants attended the meeting, including 23 of 31 Committee members, 23 government observers, four representatives of intergovernmental organizations and 34 representatives of non-governmental organizations.
CRC-12 adopted four decisions on: the draft decision guidance documents (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 severely hazardous pesticide formulation. The Committee deferred is decision on the notifications of final regulatory action for atrazine until CRC-13. CRC-12 established one intersessional task group to update the Handbook of working procedures and policy guidance for the CRC (CRC Handbook).
CRC-12 remained focused on its technical work, which enabled progress on all the agenda items and focused debate on atrazine to the risk evaluation criterion.
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 as to 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 severely hazardous pesticide formulations (SHPF).
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 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 must forward the notifications to the CRC. The CRC then reviews the notifications to determine if they meet the criteria contained in Annex II and, if it finds that they do, recommends listing the chemical in Annex III and preparing a DGD for consideration by the Conference of the Parties (COP).
As for SHPFs, any party that is a developing country or country with an economy in transition can propose listing a SHPF, which the Committee screens against Annex IV (information and criteria for listing SHPFs in Annex III) criteria.
Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC): In the period between adoption of the Convention and prior to its entry into force, the INC met six times from 1999 to 2004. During that 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 during this time.
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 the precursor perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride, 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. 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 back-to-back 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 tetra-BDE 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 the cooperation and coordination between them.
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 back-to-back 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. 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.
On Wednesday morning, CRC Chair Jürgen Helbig (Spain) opened CRC-12, encouraging participants to actively participate in the discussions to achieve a successful outcome.
William Murray, Executive Secretary of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) part of the Rotterdam Convention, welcomed participants, also on behalf of Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the UNEP part of the Convention. Stating that the CRC’s work formed the basis of decisions by parties whether to subject new chemicals to the PIC procedure, he said it was crucial that the CRC critically examine all proposals and clearly set out the basis for its decisions, working in a transparent way, and that it continue to capture lessons learned in its reviews to ensure clear, coherent and consistent decision-making. Outlining the items on the agenda, he said that three of the pesticides under discussion at CRC-12 were based on notifications from several Sahelian countries that shared a common pesticide registration system, noting that the Secretariat was supporting those countries to improve the system, which FAO was helping eight new countries to join.
Chair Helbig introduced, and the Committee adopted, the provisional agenda (UNEP/FAO/ RC/CRC.12/1 and /Add.1) and the organization of work (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/INF/1 and INF/2).
The Committee met in plenary throughout its meeting. Contact groups, open to observers, and drafting groups, limited to CRC members, also convened. This summary is organized according to the order of the agenda.
ROTATION OF MEMBERSHIP
On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced a note on the rotation of membership (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/INF/3/Rev.1). She highlighted that there are 14 new members and three new Bureau members. The CRC confirmed the election of the three new Bureau members and took note of the information.
The current members of the CRC are: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Cameroon, Canada, China, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Germany, Honduras, India, Madagascar, Malaysia, Morocco, the Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, United Kingdom and Yemen.
The following members were unable to attend: Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Honduras, Malaysia, Niger, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Yemen.
CONSIDERATION OF DRAFT DGDS: Carbofuran: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the draft DGD and comments and further related information (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/2 and INF/6). Jack Holland (Australia), Co-Chair of the intersessional drafting group, presented the work of the group. He noted that among the four sets of comments received was a request to align the DGD’s structure and its list of references to the draft DGD for carbosulfan given the similarity between the chemicals, which the Co-Chairs subsequently addressed. He reported the group could not address a comment from an observer that the notifications from the Sahelian countries did not meet the Annex II criteria because it was beyond the mandate of the drafting group, given that CRC-11 had agreed that the notifications from these countries met the criteria.
Noting no comments, Chair Helbig suggested, and the Committee agreed, to request that the Secretariat prepare a draft decision for the Committee’s consideration on Thursday.
On Thursday, Chair Helbig introduced the draft decision, which was adopted without amendment.
Final Decision: In its decision (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/CRP.5), the CRC adopts the draft DGD for carbofuran (CAS No. 1563-66-2) and decides to forward it, together with the related tabular summary of comments, to the COP for its consideration.
Carbosulfan: The Secretariat introduced the draft DGD for carbosulfan and related comments and further information (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/3 and INF/7). Jeffery Goodman (Canada), Co-Chair of the intersessional drafting group, presented the draft DGD, which had incorporated some changes based on the comments received. He explained the drafting group did not accept one observer’s comments to reconsider the CRC-11 decision regarding the notifications from eight Sahelian countries because CRC-11 had already agreed that the notifications from those countries met the criteria. He also indicated that the drafting group did not accept the comments on the inclusion of information from sources other than that information submitted by the notifying parties, or from the Stockholm Convention or Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
An observer from the US stated that the notifications from the Sahelian countries did not meet the Annex II (b) criteria because the final regulatory action did not appear to be based on a risk evaluation or to use bridging information to provide evidence of prevailing conditions in these countries.
CropLife International stated that the notifications from the Sahelian countries did not satisfy the requirement for a risk evaluation and therefore did not satisfy the criteria in Annex II (b).
Chair Helbig reiterated that CRC-11 agreed that all the notifications met all the criteria of Annex II. Observing general agreement with the draft DGD, he asked the Secretariat to prepare a draft decision for the Committee to review on Thursday.
On Thursday, Chair Helbig introduced the draft decision, which was adopted without amendment.
Final Decision: In its decision (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/CRP.6), the CRC adopts the draft DGD for carbosulfan (CAS No. 55285-14-8) and decides to forward it, together with the related tabular summary of comments, to the COP for its consideration.
REPORT OF THE BUREAU ON THE PRELIMINARY REVIEW OF FINAL REGULATORY ACTION AND THE PROPOSAL FOR A SHPF: On Wednesday, Magdalena Frydrych (Poland) introduced the report of the Bureau (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/4/Rev.1). The Committee took note of the report.
REVIEW OF NOTIFICATIONS OF FINAL REGULATORY ACTION: Atrazine: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced a note on notifications of final regulatory actions on atrazine submitted at CRC-11 by the EU and seven African parties that are members of the Sahelian Pesticide Committee (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/5), noting that CRC-11 could not reach agreement and had agreed to defer further consideration of the notifications to CRC-12. She drew attention to the draft rationale for atrazine (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.11/INF/18), which includes opposing arguments on whether the notifications meet the Annex II criteria, and to the relevant section of the CRC-11 report (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.11/9). She said that no additional information on atrazine had been submitted by the notifying parties since CRC-11, but the Committee could consider the interim CRC’s draft rationale on bromacil that is referenced in the draft rationale on atrazine (INF/18), the discussion on alachlor in the CRC-2 report (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.2/20), and a conference room paper submitted by the Netherlands at CRC-12 with information on the process by which the EU adopted its final regulatory action on atrazine.
With regard to the EU notification, Canada and Thailand said that it did not meet the criteria set out in Annex II (b), as it was based on the potential breach of a groundwater contamination threshold under proper conditions of use but it failed to draw a link between the hazardous properties of atrazine and the potential adverse effects that could occur should that threshold be exceeded. Canada said that this link was necessary in this case because atrazine was not a chemical for which there was no safe level of exposure, such as non-threshold carcinogens.
The UK said that risk evaluations could encompass policy-level decisions and the EU water quality standards were based on scientific knowledge, general World Health Organization (WHO) drinking water guidelines and the precautionary principle.
Australia said that the EU risk evaluation was unusual, since it was based on a precautionary pesticide contamination limit, but he queried if the risks to aquatic organisms referenced in paragraph 14 of the draft rationale meant that atrazine levels above that limit could negatively affect aquatic organisms. The Netherlands said the reference to aquatic organisms in the draft rationale responded to comments from a member at CRC-11, but was not part of the EU notification so it could not be considered in the CRC review.
China asked why the EU pesticide thresholds for drinking water were so much more stringent than those of the WHO or other countries. India said that the EU regulatory action was based on stringent groundwater pesticide contamination levels that should not trigger global action, and that the toxic properties of atrazine were based on modeling data. The Netherlands replied that the CRC Handbook allowed parties to use modeling data in risk evaluations and hazardous properties were irrelevant when determining if Annex II (b) criteria are met.
Germany and observers from Switzerland and South Africa said that the EU notification meets the Annex II (b) criterion regarding a risk evaluation. The observer from Switzerland recalled that when discussing alachlor the Committee had accepted the use of a threshold as a basis for regulatory action and the issue had been a lack of exposure data in the notification, whereas the EU notification on atrazine referred to groundwater monitoring studies in several countries suggesting that the threshold for atrazine would be exceeded.
The observers from the United States and Canada said that the EU notification does not meet the risk evaluation criterion because the EU regulation was not based on the toxicological properties of atrazine but simply sought to avoid a certain level of pesticide contamination. The observer from Canada stated that the Rotterdam Convention required chemical-specific risk evaluations and the EU notification did not make a link between potential exposure and chemical-specific hazards.
Pesticide Action Network (PAN) said that the notification meets the criterion because a risk evaluation had been conducted under EU prevailing conditions and, based on available data, it had been determined that atrazine could be present in groundwater at levels that could negatively affect aquatic plants and systems. CropLife International stated that risks to aquatic organisms had not triggered the EU regulation, which was based on the potential exposure to atrazine and not on a substance-specific evaluation of the risk of potential exposure to atrazine.
On the Sahelian countries’ notifications, Canada suggested that they did not meet the risk evaluation criterion, since they provided qualitative statements about routes of exposure but very limited information on the effects of potential exposure to atrazine in the notifying parties, which are necessary for a risk evaluation because atrazine is not a non-threshold toxicant. He cited section (b) of the CRC Handbook, which refers to highly hazardous pesticides and includes examples requiring a link between hazard and exposure, and not only potential exposure, unless the chemical in question was a non-threshold chemical. The Netherlands said those are examples meant to simply guide, and not to limit, the CRC.
CropLife International said that the Sahelian regulations are based on concerns about the potential presence of atrazine in water and fail to meet the Annex II (b) criterion regarding data review as there is no monitoring data or support for the claim that it could be an endocrine disruptor or a carcinogen. PAN stated that the notification provides a “classic example” of a risk evaluation because it includes information on poisoning incidents consistent with the wider literature, a survey conducted in Burkina Faso, and a description of conditions of use. Further, she said, it identifies hazards to human health and to water at certain levels in specific countries and shows that water pollution risks are very high in the notifying parties.
The CRC agreed to establish a contact group with Marit Randall (Norway) as chair and Amal Lemsioui (Morocco) as drafter. The group was asked to further discuss the notifications and, in case of agreement that one or all of the notifications meet the Annex II criteria, to develop a draft rationale. The contact group met Wednesday afternoon and evening and Thursday afternoon.
On Thursday, contact group Chair Randall reported that the group had held extensive discussions but had not reached agreement that the notifications from the EU and the Sahelian countries meet the Annex II criteria.
Observing the lack of agreement, Chair Helbig proposed that the CRC defer the discussion to CRC-13 and request that the notifying parties provide further information.
Cameroon underscored that the information provided was “substantial” and urged countries to agree without delay that atrazine should be listed in the Convention.
An observer from the US suggested that deferring the issue to CRC-13 would set a precedent that is “inconsistent” with the intent of the Convention. The Secretariat recalled that rule 15 of the Convention’s rules of procedure specifies that any agenda item for which consideration has not been completed at the meeting, shall be included automatically on the agenda of the next ordinary meeting. The observer from the US suggested that the Committee wait to revisit this agenda item until additional information becomes available, stating that the Committee is unable to reach consensus, which “is not a question of completion.” Poland said that the agenda item is not complete because there is no report of the intersessional task group.
Togo recommended that a process be defined to provide better information for CRC-13, stressing the need to maintain a sense of urgency. An observer from South Africa suggested that the Committee specify what information notifying parties should provide. An observer from Switzerland recommended requesting information on how parties perform risk evaluations. Australia recalled that CRC-11 specified the areas of disagreement in document UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.11/INF/18 and suggested that the notifying parties provide information relevant to the areas of disagreement identified in that document. PAN suggested that the contact group reconvene to discuss areas of disagreement other than the risk evaluation.
Noting that the risk evaluation criterion is the “most critical element,” Chair Helbig proposed, and Committee members agreed, to ask the contact group to reconvene to consider the other outstanding issues with a view to solving some of them.
On Friday, Randall presented the updated rationale for the conclusion on the notifications submitted by the EU and Sahelian countries (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/CRP.12), noting that the contact group reached agreement on everything except the risk evaluation criterion (Annex II (b)(iii)). Chair Helbig proposed, and the CRC agreed, that the Committee defer this item to its next meeting, and request that the notifying countries provide additional information and clarification related to Annex II (b)(iii) so that the Committee could make a decision. An observer from the US reiterated her view that the CRC should not defer the issue and “prolong the conversation.”
Benzidine: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced two new notifications relating to benzidine as an industrial chemical from Canada and Jordan, (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/6), and supporting documentation provided by both countries (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/6/Add.2 and Add.3, respectively). He said that the new notifications replaced notifications submitted by the two countries at CRC-1, when the CRC had concluded that Canada’s notification met all the Annex II criteria.
Jeffery Goodman (Canada), Co-Chair of the intersessional task group, presented the group’s report. He reported that the group found that Canada’s new regulatory action had severely restricted the chemical in order to protect human health, meets all Annex II criteria, and is based on a risk evaluation concluding that benzidine is a non-threshold carcinogen that poses unacceptable risks. On Jordan’s notification, Goodman said that the group concluded that it does not provide toxicological or ecotoxicological endpoints, information on exposure or potential exposure, and the final regulatory action is not based on a risk evaluation. He reported the conclusion that the notification does not meet the risk evaluation criterion, and therefore does not meet the criteria in Annex II (b) as a whole.
The Committee agreed that no further action would be taken with regard to the notification by Jordan, and to establish a contact group to prepare a draft rationale regarding the new notification submitted by Canada, to be chaired by Goodman.
The UK asked whether, considering that the notification by Jordan failed to provide bridging information, the CRC should ask the Secretariat to prepare a checklist to help notifying parties determine which types of bridging information could fulfill the Annex II criteria. The Secretariat responded that the CRC had developed a paper on this issue, which was contained in the CRC Handbook. Chair Helbig invited the CRC to review the document and to submit any suggestions for improvement.
The contact group convened on Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday, Chair Helbig introduced the draft rationale for the conclusion that the notification from Canada meets the Annex II criteria (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/CRP.8) and the draft decision. CRC-12 adopted both documents without amendment.
Final Decision: In its decision (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/CRP.7), the CRC concludes that the new notification of final regulatory action for benzidine submitted by Canada meets the criteria set out in Annex II to the Convention and adopts the rationale for the Committee’s conclusion on the notification for benzidine submitted by Canada set out in the annex. The CRC notes that since only one notification of final regulatory action for benzidine meets the Annex II criteria, it will take no further action at the current time.
Hexachlorobenzene (HCB): On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced notifications of final regulatory action (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/7), the notification from Canada reviewed by CRC-5 and the rationale adopted for its conclusion that the notification met the criteria (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/7/Add.1) and supporting documentation provided by China (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/7/Add.2).
Magdalena Frydrych (Poland), Co-Chair of the intersessional task group, presented the group’s conclusions. On Canada’s notification, she underlined that since CRC-5 agreed that the notification had met the Annex II criteria, the group only analyzed the notification from China. She reported that the group concluded that the notification from China meets all Annex II criteria, with the exception of Annex II (b) criteria because the notification specified that China did not base its decision on a risk evaluation.
Norway noted that HCB is listed under the Stockholm Convention, meaning that the chemical is capable of long-range environmental transport. She indicated that there is evidence of high levels of HCB in China in the environment and in human milk. The UK suggested that the CRC could interpret HCB’s potential for long-range environmental transport as evidence of prevailing conditions. Germany said that the Stockholm Convention recognizes the chemical’s relevance for different regions.
South Africa underlined the need to assist countries to use the information provided by the POPRC and to conduct their own risk evaluations.
The Netherlands and Canada stated that the criteria for a risk evaluation are not met, highlighting that the notification stated that a risk evaluation was not conducted. China confirmed that the regulatory action was taken to fulfill its obligations under the Stockholm Convention and agreed that the criterion related to a risk evaluation was not met.
CropLife International highlighted that HCB was one of the initial chemicals included in the Stockholm Convention and therefore had not been subjected to the POPRC process. He said that the CRC Handbook states that risk evaluations conducted by the Montreal Protocol and Stockholm Convention could be considered as adequate support, if accompanied by a risk evaluation considering conditions in the notifying country.
The International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) underlined that the chemicals listed under the Stockholm Convention are transboundary pollutants, which means that one could suggest that the impacts and risks described by the POPRC could apply to prevailing conditions within countries. She suggested revisiting the CRC guidance on the relationship between the POPRC and CRC to remind notifying parties to add bridging information when providing a notification on a chemical listed under the Stockholm Convention.
Chair Helbig observed general agreement that the notification from Canada meets the Annex II criteria, while the notification from China does not. He suggested, and the Committee agreed, that no further action be taken at this time because only one notification from one PIC region met the Annex II criteria. He suggested that the Committee later discuss establishing an intersessional task group to update the CRC Handbook in light of the discussion and other instances that may arise.
Review of the proposal for the inclusion of carbofuran suspension concentrate 330 g/L as a shpf in Annex III: On Thursday morning, the Secretariat introduced the proposal from Colombia to list carbofuran suspension concentrate 330 g/L as an SHPF in Annex III (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/8) and supporting documents (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/8/Add.1 and INF/9). Malverne Spencer (Antigua and Barbuda), Chair of the task group, introduced the task group report. Parvoleta Angelova Luleva (Germany), the drafter of the report, presented the task group’s conclusion that the proposal meets Annex IV criteria and the recommendation that the CRC should draft a rationale to document this conclusion.
Sudan suggested that the draft DGD on carbofuran would cover the carbofuran suspension concentrate 330 g/L and asked why the CRC should consider this proposal. The Secretariat explained that the draft DGD on carbofuran has not been adopted by the COP, therefore the CRC needs to review the proposal.
An observer from Colombia underscored that between 2011 and 2013, carbofuran was the pesticide associated with a high number of intoxication reports due to occupational inhalation and dermal exposure.
CropLife International stated that the proposal does not meet the criteria in Annex IV Part 3 (a) (reliability of evidence indicating that use of the formulation, in accordance with common or recognized practice within the proposing party, resulted in the reported incidents) because the survey supporting the proposal had been conducted two to four years after the reported use of carbofuran or any poisoning cases and this could cause bias in the survey. He underscored that Colombia had not provided a summary of each individual poisoning incident; the health effects reported may not be specific to carbofuran since many users applied multiple pesticides including cholinesterase inhibitors in mixtures with carbofuran; and the effects of nausea, tremors and headache could not be considered as severe.
An observer from Colombia responded that the study documented intoxication incidents between January and November 2013 and the analysis began in 2014. She noted that a summary of each case could not be provided to the Secretariat due to confidentiality reasons. She underscored that the analysis of the cases presented in the proposal concludes that in all of the cases carbofuran was present, which she said proves that carbofuran caused the intoxication, although she reported that in 26 out of the 106 cases, carbofuran was mixed with another pesticide.
The Netherlands asked that the additional information provided by Colombia be included in the meeting report. PAN fully supported the consensus reached in the task group that the proposal meets the criteria.
Observing general agreement among members, Chair Helbig proposed to establish a contact group to prepare a rationale to support the conclusion that the proposal meets the Annex IV criteria, including comments made in the plenary, with Spencer as chair and Luleva as drafter. Noting that COP-8 in 2017 will decide on the listing of carbofuran as a pesticide in Annex III, Chair Helbig suggested that the CRC not prepare a draft DGD for the time being, since listing carbofuran as a pesticide in Annex III would mean that carbofuran formulations would be covered. He said that, if the COP cannot agree on listing carbofuran as a pesticide, the CRC could draft the DGD on the carbofuran formulation as proposed as an SHPF by Colombia. The contact group met Thursday afternoon.
On Friday, Spencer and Luleva presented the draft rationale for the conclusion that the proposal submitted by Colombia meets the criteria in Part 3 of Annex IV to the Convention (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/CRP.11).
Referring to past experience, Canada asked whether the final paragraph in the rationale should conclude that the Committee recommends carbofuran suspension concentrate 330g/L “and above,” instead of only 330g/L. Chair Helbig responded that the rationale addresses the proposal submitted by Colombia, but the word “above” was reflected in the draft decision.
The Committee adopted the rationale, draft decision and workplan for the preparation of a draft DGD (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/CRP.10). Chair Helbig reiterated that the Committee would wait for the decision made by the COP-8 before preparing a draft DGD.
Final Decision: In its final decision (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/CRP.9), the CRC:
- concludes that the proposal for listing carbofuran suspension concentrate 330 g/L as a SHPF in Annex III submitted by Colombia meets the criteria set out in Part 3 of Annex IV to the Convention;
- adopts the rationale for the Committee’s conclusion;
- recommends that the COP should list carbofuran (suspension concentrate at or above 330g active ingredient/L) in Annex III to the Convention as a SHPF;
- decides to prepare a draft DGD for carbofuran (suspension concentrate at or above 330g active ingredient/L); and
- decides the workplan of the intersessional drafting group to prepare the draft DGD should be set out in the CRC-12 meeting report.
VENUE AND DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING
On Friday, the CRC agreed that CRC-13 would be held from 17-21 October 2017, at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy. The Secretariat noted that this meeting will occur just before the POPRC meeting.
On Friday, CRC-12 discussed several items under “other matters”: activities for effective participation; update of the CRC Handbook; naming of short-chained chlorinated paraffins; intersessional work on listing of chemicals under the Rotterdam Convention; draft roadmap on Science to Action; and status of preparations for COP-8.
On activities for effective participation, the Secretariat provided information on the recent orientation workshop for CRC members, which several members expressed support for.
On the update of the CRC Handbook, the Secretariat said that the guidance to intersessional task groups on reviewing notifications of final regulatory action and the working paper on the application of Annex II criteria (b) could be updated. On the guidance, the Secretariat suggested that it may be useful to include the Committee’s experience with reviewing proposals for the inclusion of SHPFs. On the working paper, she noted the possible usefulness of including additional examples. She also suggested that the guidances in the Handbook could be made available to designated national authorities to help their preparation of notifications of final regulatory action.
Chair Helbig suggested, and Committee members agreed, to establish an intersessional task group to update the Handbook, to be co-chaired by Merit Randall (Norway) and Jack Holland (Australia), and to ask the Secretariat to take into account suggestions from CRC members for its technical assistance activities to assist parties in using risk assessments, exposure data and bridging information in notifications of final regulatory action. India underlined that the group should be widely representative and Chair Helbig confirmed that the group will be open to all CRC members and observers.
On naming short-chained chlorinated paraffins, the Secretariat explained that since CRC-10 agreed to recommend listing short-chained chlorinated paraffins, the POPRC has changed how it refers to the chemical, now referring to “short-chain,” rather than “short-chained.” She recalled that the notifications that CRC based its decision on referred to short-chain chlorinated paraffins. Chair Helbig proposed, and the Committee agreed, to change the name of the chemical in CRC documents to short-chain chlorinated paraffins.
On intersessional work on the listing of chemicals under the Rotterdam Convention, the Secretariat provided information on the work of the intersessional group convened to review cases where the COP was unable to reach consensus on listing chemicals and to identify reasons for and against. She reported that the intersessional group had held a workshop, which developed proposals and options that do not have the endorsement of the group, only the proponent of a given proposal or option. She noted that there will be an opportunity to comment on these proposals and options.
Chair Helbig encouraged members to participate or encourage their national focal points to participate in the commenting period on the proposals and options to feed the CRC’s experience into the process.
On the draft roadmap for Science to Action (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/INF/10), the Secretariat highlighted that the elements of the draft roadmap are open for comment.
On COP-8, the Secretariat reported that COP-8 will occur back to back with the COPs of the Stockholm and Basel Conventions and will include a one-day high level segment and joint sessions on joint issues among the three Conventions. She said that the theme will be “A future detoxified: sound management of chemicals and waste.”
ADOPTION OF THE REPORT
On Friday, the Secretariat introduced the draft report (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.12/L.1) and the Committee adopted it with minor amendments.
CLOSURE OF THE MEETING
On Friday, William Murray, Executive Secretary of the FAO part of the Rotterdam Convention, commended the efforts of the Committee, underscoring the Committee’s work to recognize and act on the concern brought forward by developing countries.
Chair Helbig highlighted the CRC’s decision to share the Committee’s guidances with designated national authorities and encouraged CRC members to share their experience with their colleagues to improve national processes that will lead to improved notifications for the CRC to review. He then gaveled the meeting to a close at 12:45 pm.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF CRC-12
With a relatively light agenda and a cohort of new members, CRC-12 delved into its technical work and, despite continued disagreement on atrazine, an agenda item inherited from CRC-11, a cordial spirit prevailed throughout the meeting. CRC-12 ran smoothly and saw both old and new members continuously refer to the CRC Handbook of working procedures and policy guidance for the CRC (CRC Handbook), demonstrating the benefits and value of the Secretariat’s efforts to train new members and to compile information on the Committee’s role, practices and previous decisions into a handbook.
The Committee was able to agree on most of the items on its agenda, approving decision guidance documents for carbofuran and carbosulfan, two new pesticides recommended for listing in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention (“Chemicals subject to the PIC procedure”). CRC-12 also concluded that a new proposal to list a carbofuran formulation should lead to a listing of the formulation in Annex III, unless carbofuran is listed as a pesticide in Annex III at the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP), which would automatically make all carbofuran formulations subject to the PIC procedure.
As foreseen by several participants, the Committee could not reach consensus on whether the notifications on the pesticide atrazine, submitted by the EU and a group of Sahelian countries at CRC-11, met the Convention’s “risk evaluation” criterion for listing a chemical in Annex III, deciding once again to defer resolution of this issue to its next meeting. While a few participants were unhappy with this decision, others felt that CRC-12 made progress by reducing disagreement to a single criterion—in large part thanks to the CRC Handbook. This helped old members to persuade new ones that the CRC should treat similar cases in the same way to ensure its decisions were consistent and fair, and by asking the notifying parties to provide more information on their risk evaluations to facilitate a decision at CRC-13. Some participants expressed relief about this outcome, stressing that how the CRC further defines risk evaluation for chemicals for which certain levels of exposure could be considered safe could be decisive in determining the number and types of chemicals that could be subjected to the PIC procedure.
Taking into account the discussions on atrazine at CRC-12, in particular on the EU notification, this brief analysis examines competing interpretations of what “risk evaluation” means in the context of the Rotterdam Convention and the possible implications of choosing one interpretation over another at CRC-13.
At CRC-11, the Committee was unable to agree whether or not the notifications of regulatory action on atrazine by the EU and by seven African parties satisfied the Convention’s criteria for listing atrazine in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention. At that time, a single CRC member (India), joined by two observers, was successful in preventing a CRC decision that the criterion had been met by insisting that neither notification met the Convention’s requirement that the regulatory action on a chemical must be “based on a risk evaluation involving prevailing conditions” in the notifying party. Concluding that the item had not been sufficiently discussed, the CRC decided to defer further discussion of the notifications and supporting documentation to its next meeting.
At CRC-12, more in-depth discussion of the EU notification revealed important differences in how CRC members and observers interpret the “risk evaluation” criterion set out in Annex II (b)(iii) to the Convention.
According to the EU notification, the basis for the EU’s restriction of atrazine was the conclusion that available monitoring data were insufficient to demonstrate that atrazine products would not exceed the maximum level allowed for pesticides in groundwater in the EU. A conference room paper prepared by the Netherlands at CRC-12 confirmed that the EU’s regulatory action on atrazine was “based on the results of a comprehensive risk assessment” showing that atrazine was “expected to exceed” the limit for pesticides in groundwater, and clarified that the risk assessment had not taken into account the “chemical-specific toxicological properties” of atrazine, but applied the same limit to all pesticides to ensure that pesticide contamination was kept to a “very low level” in order to protect human health.
Pointing to this information, several participants said it was clear that the EU had regulated atrazine as a precautionary measure, on the assumption that the hazardous properties of the pesticide, coupled with potential human exposure via groundwater, presented an unacceptable risk. “Any party should be free to ban or restrict a substance based on its own understanding and application of risk evaluation and precaution,” several members and observers commented, “but that does not mean that all risk evaluations meet the Convention’s criteria for making a chemical subject to the global PIC procedure.”
At least two divergent interpretations of “risk evaluation” in the context of the Rotterdam Convention emerged. According to one group of members and observers, led by several European countries and environmental NGOs, an acceptable risk evaluation could simply describe the hazardous properties of a chemical (e.g., persistence, ability to bioaccumulate) and provide evidence of actual or potential exposure to that chemical (e.g., presence in water). According to the other group, led by Canada, the US and industry representatives, in addition to providing a description of the hazardous properties and evidence of actual or potential exposure to a chemical, a risk evaluation needs to establish a link between those hazardous properties and adverse effects on human health or the environment. The second group argued that because the EU’s action on atrazine was based on atrazine potentially exceeding a precautionary limit for all pesticides in groundwater, a risk evaluation requires an analysis of the potential adverse environmental or health effects of exposure to atrazine above that limit.
In an effort to determine which view should prevail, participants made reference to the CRC Handbook and to previous Committee decisions, drawing parallels between the atrazine case and past decisions on bromacil, where the Interim CRC found that a control action by Germany did not fulfill the Convention’s risk evaluation criterion because it failed to address chemical-specific hazards, and alachlor, where a notification of a regulatory action from the Netherlands was found to describe hazard, carcinogenicity and potential for leaching, but provided no evidence of exposure, leading the CRC to invite the country to resubmit its notification with additional information to clarify the issue of exposure. According to one member, the alachlor case demonstrated that hazard and evidence of exposure should be considered sufficient to meet the Convention’s definition of risk evaluation, while another claimed that a link between hazard and exposure was needed in the case of atrazine because the chemical was not a “no-threshold chemical,” i.e., a chemical for which no level of exposure could be considered safe.
Since the EU notification showed that atrazine was restricted because it was found that it could exceed a precautionary limit set for all pesticides (i.e., any single pesticide exceeding that limit could be regulated) and did not assess what the adverse effects of atrazine could be above that limit (or provided evidence that atrazine was a “no-threshold chemical”), many concurred with Chair Helbig’s statement on the last day of CRC-12 that atrazine was a “unique” case for the CRC.
Since choosing either of the two abovementioned interpretations could make it either easier or harder for parties to get new chemicals included in the PIC procedure, how the CRC resolves the atrazine issue could have significant implications for the future of the Rotterdam Convention. According to one participant, choosing the interpretation espoused by European countries could lead to a significant increase in the chemicals regulated under the Convention by lowering the bar of evidence required to demonstrate that a chemical has adverse effects on human health or the environment. The participant said that choosing that interpretation could also have implications for the CRC, since it could flood it with notifications of chemicals banned or severely restricted on the basis of precautionary actions taken for groups of chemicals (e.g., pesticides in groundwater). Another participant said that these fears were unfounded, stressing that the parties would still need to provide information on chemical-specific hazards and potential or actual exposure, which would limit the number of notifications that the Committee would need to examine and the number of chemicals it could recommend for listing, and stressing that precaution was a widely accepted element of risk evaluations that the Committee should be able to consider.
Stressing that the CRC’s decision would be subjected to considerable scrutiny, including by the COP, several participants expressed confidence that the Committee would continue to stay focused on its technical work and further define the notion of “risk evaluation” in line with the objective of the Convention, which is to help countries protect human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals. Saying that the Committee should have that objective in mind, one participant suggested that the Committee could perhaps choose a middle ground between the two interpretations of risk evaluation discussed at CRC-12, which would ensure that notifications provided sufficient evidence of chemical-specific hazards while allowing some flexibility and room for precautionary action in cases where evidence of adverse effects was inconclusive.
Twelfth Meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Committee (POPRC-12): POPRC-12 will convene to consider, inter alia: the draft risk profiles for dicofol and perfluorooctanoic acid; further information related to Annex F for decabromodiphenyl ether; and the draft risk management evaluation for short-chain chlorinated paraffins. dates: 19-23 September 2016 location: Rome, Italy contact: BRS Secretariat phone: +41-22-917-8729 fax: +41-22-917-8098 email: email@example.com www: http://www.pops.int
28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol: The 28th Meeting of the Parties (MOP-28) to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is scheduled to consider, inter alia, negotiations on a hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) amendment, nominations for critical-use and essential-use exemptions, and other draft decisions forwarded from the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG). The meeting will be preceded by the resumed OEWG-38 session, which will take place on 8 October. dates: 10-14 October 2016 location: Kigali, Rwanda contact: Ozone Secretariat phone: +254-20-762-3851 fax: +254-20-762-0335 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://ozone.unep.org/en/meetings
51st Meeting of the GEF Council: The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council meets twice a year to approve new projects with global environmental benefits in the GEF’s focal areas of biodiversity, climate change mitigation, chemicals and waste, international waters, land degradation, and sustainable forest management; and in the GEF’s integrated approach programs on sustainable cities, taking deforestation out of commodity chains, and sustainability and resilience for food security in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Council also provides guidance to the GEF Secretariat and Agencies. The 25-27 October GEF Council meeting will be preceded on 24 October by a consultation with civil society organizations (CSOs) at the same location. On 27 October the Council will convene as the 21st meeting of the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) also at the same location. dates: 24-27 October 2016 location: Washington D.C., US contact: GEF Secretariat phone: +1-202-473-0508 fax: +1-202-522-3240 email: email@example.com www: http://www.thegef.org/gef/council_meetings
Joint Meeting of the Bureaux of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions: The Bureaux of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions will hold a joint meeting to discuss matters related to the organization of the 2017 meeting of the COPs of the three Conventions. Bureaux members will also discuss compliance under the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, the preparation of the budget for the biennium 2018-2019, and updates on synergies arrangements and developments under international bodies relevant to the 2017 meeting. dates: 3-4 November 2017 location: Geneva, Switzerland contact: BRS Secretariat phone: +41-22-917- 8729 fax: +41-22-917-8098 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://synergies.pops.int/
First Meeting of the SAICM Intersessional Process: Through its Resolution IV/4, the fourth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) held in September 2015 decided to initiate an intersessional process to prepare recommendations regarding the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 for consideration at ICCM5, expected to be held in 2020. The first intersessional meeting is expected to focus in part on a discussion on an independent evaluation of SAICM for 2006-2015. dates: 7-9 February 2017 location: TBA contact: SAICM Secretariat phone: +41-22-917-8532 fax: +41-22-797-3460 email: email@example.com www: http://www.saicm.org/
Basel COP-13, Rotterdam COP-8 and Stockholm COP-8: The 13th meeting of the COP to the Basel Convention, eighth meeting of the COP to the Rotterdam Convention and eighth meeting of the COP to the Stockholm Convention will convene back-to-back and include a high-level segment. The theme will be “A future detoxified: sound management of chemicals and waste.” dates: 24 April – 5 May 2017 location: Geneva, Switzerland contact: BRS Secretariat phone: +41-22-917- 8729 fax: +41-22-917-8098 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://synergies.pops.int/
For additional meetings, see http://chemicals-l.iisd.org/