Food contamination by POPs highlighted

Greenpeace claims problem is "widespread" ahead of international negotiations in Bonn

As international negotiators prepare to gather in Bonn on Monday for five days of talks on controlling certain persistent organic pollutants (POPs), Greenpeace has alleged that food contamination by POPs is "widespread". Based on published research, the group claimed many instances of regulatory limits being exceeded. It renewed its call for a complete ban on POPs and the processes that create them as by-products.

According to Greenpeace's new report, there are "many" exceedences of regulatory limits on POPs in food both in industrialised and developing countries, including of aldrin and dieldrin in India and the Faroe Islands, heptachlor in Spain and Australia and dioxins in the UK, southern Sweden and Taiwan. The group stresses that its research "reveals large gaps in the data," suggesting that it has therefore provided no more than "a glimpse at a much more widespread problem".

The Bonn talks mark the fourth meeting for an intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) set up to agree a global treaty on POPs. Formal efforts to draft the instrument began in 1998 (ENDS Daily 3 July 1998) and are due to be concluded this December before formal signature in spring 2001. The INC's third meeting was last autumn (ENDS Daily 13 September 1999).

Although the treaty's broad outlines are now clear: a complete ban on the use of at least 10 priority chemicals, arguments are continuing over what, if any, exemptions might be granted for the organochlorine pesticide DDT and the industrial chemicals polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). There is also disagreement over how stringent controls should be on dioxins and furans, which are unintentional by-products of certain industrial processes rather than products themselves.

Follow Up:
Greenpeace International, tel: +31 20 524 9515, and a summary of "Recipe for Disaster". For daily coverage of INC-4 from Monday and related POPs links, see {{IISD's Linkages}}. See also the {{UNEP POPs pages}}.

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