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Switzerland backs global ban of organic pollutants

The Swiss government has agreed to an accord in Johannesburg, which bans the worldwide use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The Swiss delegation reported that a breakthrough at the 122 nations conference was made on Sunday.

The Swiss government has agreed to an accord in Johannesburg, which bans the worldwide use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The Swiss delegation reported that a breakthrough at the 122 nations conference was made on Sunday.

Switzerland's five-member delegation spent just under a week in the South African city to try to bring the negotiations to a speedy end. Progress was finally made at marathon talks during the weekend when delegates from around the world reached a consensus.

Although Switzerland has already banned the production, use and sale of POPs, many third-world countries do not have such legislation in place.

POPs, which are known to cause deformities in babies, various forms of cancer and impair children's growth, are to be formally outlawed throughout the world with the signing of a treaty in Stockholm in May.

Once POPs enter the air, water and the food chain they stay there for many years without being detected.

The treaty would ban the production and use of a dozen organic pollutants. The 12 initial POPs include eight pesticides (aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, mirex, and toxaphene), two industrial chemicals (PCBs and hexachlorobenzene, which is also a pesticide), and two unwanted by-products of combustion and industrial processes (dioxins and furans).

Twenty-five nations, however, would still be allowed to use DDT in the fight against malaria, it was agreed in Johannesburg.

The treaty will only come into force if at least 50 countries ratify it at home. It is expected to take at least another four years for the accord to become internationally legally binding.

swissinfo with agencies


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