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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2005 Sep 1;207(2 Suppl):697-705.

Acute pesticide poisoning and pesticide registration in Central America.

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Central American Institute for Studies on Toxic Substances (IRET), Universidad Nacional (IRET-UNA), PO Box 86, 3000-Heredia, Costa Rica.


The International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has been for 20 years the most acknowledged international initiative for reducing negative impact from pesticide use in developing countries. We analyzed pesticide use and poisoning in Central America, particularly in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and evaluated whether registration decisions are based on such data, in accordance with the FAO Code. Extensive use of very hazardous pesticides continues in Central America and so do poisonings with organophosphates, carbamates, endosulfan and paraquat as the main causative agents. Central American governments do not carry out or commission scientific risk assessments. Instead, guidelines from international agencies are followed for risk management through the registration process. Documentation of pesticide poisonings during several decades never induced any decision to ban or restrict a pesticide. However, based on the official surveillance systems, in 2000, the ministers of health of the seven Central American countries agreed to ban or restrict twelve of these pesticides. Now, almost 4 years later, restrictions have been implemented in El Salvador and in Nicaragua public debate is ongoing. Chemical and agricultural industries do not withdraw problematic pesticides voluntarily. In conclusion, the registration processes in Central America do not comply satisfactorily with the FAO Code. However, international regulatory guidelines are important in developing countries, and international agencies should strongly extend its scope and influence, limiting industry involvement. Profound changes in international and national agricultural policies, steering towards sustainable agriculture based on non-chemical pest management, are the only way to reduce poisonings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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