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01:36 PM ET 03/19/00 Countries Talk About Banning DDT By BURT HERMAN=
Associated Press Writer=
BERLIN (AP) _ Pesticides such as DDT may pose a danger to humans
and animals, but for developing nations that use it to kill
mosquitoes and prevent malaria, the negatives don't always outweigh
the good DDT can do by saving millions of lives.
Giving financial and technical assistance to countries so they
can be weaned from substances like DDT will take center stage
starting Monday, as negotiators from more than 100 countries resume
talks in Bonn on a global treaty to ban DDT and other of the
world's deadliest environmental poisons.
It will be the fourth round of negotiations on a ban of the
``dirty dozen'' chemicals, a list of substances that are deemed the
most harmful because they break down extremely slowly and can
accumulate up the food chain. The chemicals, known as persistent
organic pollutants, have been linked to cancer, birth defects and
other genetic abnormalities.
A total ban on the chemicals worldwide is the only way to keep
them out of the earth's environment, because they are passed on soeasily.
The next and last round of negotiations is scheduled for South
Africa in December, meaning this six-day session is critical in
ensuring work on the treaty can be finished. Leaders hope to have
the text of the treaty in shape before the negotiations endSaturday.
Getting assistance to the developing countries is crucial ``so
that this can really be a global effort and not just an effort of
developed countries,'' said Brooks Yeager, deputy assistant
secretary for the environment at the State Department and head of
the U.S. delegation.
So far, Canada has given the most significant financial pledge,
making available $13 million in its federal budget to help
developing countries limit the release of the substances. Other
nations are also expected to start making their commitments known
at this meeting.
``A number of countries need the reassurance that if they take
on new and additional obligations under this treaty that there will
be some assistance,'' said Jim Willis, director of the U.N.
Environment Program's chemicals division.
Environmental groups have suggested alternatives to DDT that are
also as cheap and have proven successful in experiments in killing
malaria-carrying mosquitoes. However, the chemical is still
endorsed by the World Health Organization for that use, despite a
ban in 34 countries and severe restrictions in 34 others.
The ``dirty dozen'' chemicals also include PCBs and other
pesticides that were first used decades ago, and also the
byproducts of chemical reactions known as dioxins and furans.
Some environmental groups have accused countries led by the
United States of trying to weaken the treaty's provisions on these
byproducts in order to protect industry. The United States insists
it has already taken strong measures against all the chemicals onthe list.
``If this treaty would eventually ban those substances it would
impact not only the developing countries but also the
industrialized world and mainly the industrialized world, because
they are the main producers of those dioxins,'' said Wytze Van Der
Naald, a member of the Greenpeace delegation that participates as
observers at the negotiations.
The treaty will eventually move beyond just the ``dirty dozen''
chemicals when it comes into force likely by 2004. Negotiators are
working out how to add new chemicals under the ban. ___=
On the Net: U.N. Environment Program site on ``dirty dozen'':
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