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Replacing Chemicals with Biology: Phasing out highly hazardous pesticides with agroecology

Adverse effects of highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) on people and the environment have been a global concern for many years. In 2006, this was clearly expressed by the FAO Council when it recommended a progressive ban on HHPs. The concern crystallized at UNEP’s Fourth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) in Nairobi in 2012, with the submission of a conference room paper supported by at least 65 countries and organizations. The proposed resolution included supporting “a progressive ban on HHPs and their substitution with safer alternatives”. While the resolution was not immediately adopted, countries participating in subsequent regional meetings of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) have reiterated concern about HHPs and called for more information on ecosystem-based alternatives. At SAICM’s Open-Ended Working Group in December 2014, following a call by the entire African region for a global alliance to phase-out these chemicals, it was agreed a proposal would be developed for ICCM4.

The purpose of this publication is to provide information drawn from all regions to assist countries in replacing HHPs with ecosystem-based approaches to pest1 and crop management – replacing chemicals with biology. It draws together previously published and new material in a form that is accessible for policy- and decision-makers at the national and international level, as well as providing practical guidance at the farm and farm-support level.

It also points out that use, and phasing out, of HHPs must be seen in the context not only of human health and environmental impacts and costs, but also in the context of food security, poverty reduction, and climate change.