Africa: South Africa bans lindane; endosulfan still not covered by Rotterdam Convention (Cape Argus, UN Food and Agriculture Organization)

| November 17, 2008

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As of next March, pesticides containing the chemical lindane will be banned in South Africa. Lindane is a neurotoxin, which means that it damages nerve and brain cells. It may also cause cancer. It is also a persistent organic pollutant, meaning that it does not break down in the environment, and it accumulates in the bodies of humans and animals.

Earlier this year, more than 100 students from a girls’ school in Nigeria became ill after eating a meal of beans poisoned with lindane. The government of Nigeria banned the use of lindane shortly thereafter. The chemical is already banned in more than 50 countries and restricted in more than 30 others.

Gerhard Verdoorn is a spokesperson for the Association of Veterinary and Crop Associations of South Africa. He said that lindane no longer fits into “modern pesticide science.” By March 2009, manufacturing, selling, using, or disposing of lindane in South Africa will be prohibited.

Meanwhile, country representatives met in Rome, Italy to discuss hazardous chemicals as part of the Rotterdam Convention. The group could not reach an agreement on the chemical endosulfan, which is commonly used as a pesticide on cotton crops. Endosulfan is also a neurotoxin and possible endocrine disruptor, meaning it may interfere with the body’s natural hormones.

Note to broadcasters: Try to include the names of any locally-used pesticides containing lindane or endosulfan.
-For more information on these and other chemicals, visit:
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