The use of toxic pesticides to manage pest problems is a common practice around the world. Pesticides are used almost everywhere – not only in agricultural fields, but also in homes, parks, forests, and roads. Despite the increasing scientific evidence that human exposure to them is linked to serious health problems, it is difficult to find a place where pesticides are not used — from the can of bug spray under the kitchen sink to the airplane crop dusting acres of farmland, our world is filled with pesticides.
Sustainability standards have been, and continue to be, at the global forefront on the quest to reduce pesticide use.
All the major standards have been working hard to address the issue and promote sustainable alternatives; however there has not always been a coordinated approach among them. As a result, the list of banned pesticides often varies from one standard to another, creating some confusion amongst farmers working with different verification and certifications.
In order to better coordinate processes and requirements, the 4C Association, in cooperation with other ISEAL members including Bonsucro, Fairtrade International, RSB, Sustainable Agriculture Network, and UTZ Certified are intensifying their work together to develop harmonized procedures on pesticides.
As a result of their efforts, the Working Group agreed on a Common Reference List of Pesticides. In a joint declaration published on the 10th of November 2015, all the organisations in the Group commited to include the active ingredients found in the Rotterdam Convention, Stockholm Convention and Montreal Protocol in the banned pesticides lists in their revised standards.
This collaborative approach is intended to support broader efforts to remove these pesticides from circulation.
These three conventions include highly hazardous substances categorized as Persistent Organic Pollutants, which accumulate along the food chain and can move long distances in the atmosphere causing huge environmental pollution; those of the Prior Informed Concent (PIC) which are proven to cause harmful effects on human health and the environment; and Methyl Bromide which heavily contribute to ozone depletion.
The next ambition of the Pesticides Working Group is to jointly explore and disseminate safer alternatives to highly hazardous pesticides, including promotion of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).