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Heal Toxics is a member of the International POPs Elimination Network

This website provides resources on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) such as pesticides, dioxins, PCBs, and wastes. Valuable examples of community monitoring of health and environmental impacts of toxic chemicals are also furnished.

Further, there is an entire section devoted to chemical safety in its proper socio-political context or in relation to issues such as globalization and people's empowerment.

 

Philippines: A Time for Cautious Celebration

Statement by Health and Environmental Alliance Against Toxics on the Stockholm Convention's entry into force

The world has taken one more big step today in halting and reversing the poisoning of global ecosystems and peoples. Philippines is one of more than 50 countries that have agreed to be bound by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. This is the first worldwide agreement aimed at stopping the production and use of some of the world’s most toxic substances. The convention officially comes into force on May the 17th, triggering obligations on the part of the countries that belong to the convention.

It obliges countries to begin working toward ending the production and use of the twelve chemicals listed under the convention: The list includes pesticides such as aldrin, cholordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex and toxaphene. Industrial chemicals in the list include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and unintended byproducts, which include dioxins, and furans. These POPs are highly toxic, and persist in the environment, lasting for years or even decades before degrading into less dangerous forms. They evaporate and travel long distances through the air and through water, and they accumulate in fatty tissue.

So this is a time to celebrate, secure in the knowledge that better health and a better environment for all has not been bought at the expense of poorer nations. However, we celebrate cautiously.

In the Philippines, high levels of pesticides remain at the former US bases at Clark and Subic. No substantive effort has been made by the government to make the US government accountable and clean up the contaminated sites and get rid of stockpiles still remaining and leaking to the environment, despite insistent lobbying by many concerned groups including people’s organizations and environmental NGOs.

Meanwhile, power-generating companies store their PCB waste in unsatisfactory conditions and many establishments still use PCB containing electrical and other equipment, posing serious health risks to workers and communities. Dioxins ad furans also continue to be produced by a solid waste “pyrolysis” plant which managed to get around the ban on incinerators. Many other industrial and community sources of such highly pollutants continue to be uncontrolled.

Hard as it has been to bring the countries of the world together to act in their mutual best interest in getting rid of the toxic chemicals named in the convention, there is still more hard work to come. The Stockholm convention has set the stage for the next part of the process: identifying and adding other chemicals to the list of those to be eliminated. These chemicals have already been banned in many countries, or are due to be phased out.

The Philippine government, in doing its part, must ensure the enforcement of pesticide bans and promptly heed to calls for the banning of pesticides proven deleterious to health and environment.

In the Philippines, endosulfan, a highly hazardous pesticide known to have caused indisputable harm to many agricultural workers, was banned and severely restricted 10 years ago. Yet Pesticide Action Network Philippines continue to receive reports of its use in the field, giving rise to suspicions of unabated smuggling.

Meanwhile, paraquat, which is banned in several developing countries and recently, in our neighboring country, Malaysia, continues to be rampantly used in the country. Syngenta holds intensive farmer trainings for the pesticide’s use and even hosts a television program aimed at promoting its products.

The Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and all agencies concerned with the regulation of these chemicals, in fulfilling its obligations to the convention, must now learn to use the iron fist against plantations and agrochemical corporations raging against all efforts to control their dirty practices.

So while we can all pat ourselves on the back today, and bask in the feeling of having accomplished something, we must not be complacent. For the Stockholm Convention to be effective, it must be an active Convention, continually responding to the challenges of a changing world. For that to happen, the government must understand that we will continue to watch, and to push for them to ensure that the good start made by this convention does not falter.

 

©heal toxics, 2003
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National Council of Churches in the Philippines tackles the Stockholm Convention (by HEAL Toxics)

France: Monsanto’s GM corn given green light in despite disturbing effects on rats (by Le Monde)

Philippines: A Time for Cautious Celebration (by HEAL Toxics)

European groups submit Asian protest letters at Syngenta AGM (by PAN AP)

Pesticides too harmful to use in any form, doctors warn (by Toronto Globe and Mail)

50 years is enough for the World Bank and IMF (by PANNA)

Earth Day: Float Protest Parade in the Philippines (by Kalikasan-PNE)

Methyl Bromide in Montreal (by PANNA)

POPs levels linked to climate fluctuations (by Environmental Science and Technology)

‘Rediscovering’ Traditional Mosquito Repellents (by The East African)

Drug Firms Stalled on Strokes (by Los Angeles Times)

War and WTO: Two Thorns from the Same Bush (by People’s Health Movement)

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