August 15, 2012
Ivan R. Kennedy, University of Sydney
On April 21, 2011, COP5 of the UNEP’s Stockholm Convention ratified POPRC’s recommendation to list the insecticide endosulfan as a persistent organic pollutant (POP) and be added to the “dirty dozen.” A case has been made that the Convention exceeded its brief in declaring endosulfan a POP, as there is little environmental evidence to support the conclusion that it is persistent. Only by choosing apparent outliers for degradation rates was POPRC able to support its case for the listing. Furthermore, little or no input was sought from experts in insect control or food security. The decision might therefore be regarded more as an act of eco-politics rather than one based on rational science. This case raises important issues related to the regulation of agrochemicals and how stewardship is best achieved. Feeding 10 billion humans in the foreseeable future in the face of climate change might require continued access to a range of chemicals.