Manual on the Safe Use of Pesticides in Cocoa Growing
Note by the Secretariat:
The following document is a summary of the Manual on the Safe Use of
Pesticides in Cocoa Growing prepared by Dr. Roy Bateman, Expert at the
International Pesticide Application Research Centre (IPARC) and ICCO
Consultant on pesticide matters. The complete document can be downloaded here.
Download the latest information here: Which cocoa pesticides are effective and permitted for use?
- The new European Union (EU) Regulation on Maximum Residue Limits on
Pesticides (MRLs), EC No. 149/2008 dated 29 January 2008, came into
force in the European Union on 2 September 2008. This regulation
amended regulation EC No. 396/2005 dated 23 February 2005. The new
legislation harmonizes the different regulations that applied in the
individual Member States of the European Union and sets maximum levels
on the amount of pesticides allowed on imported foods including cocoa
- Specific MRLs already established in the EU are listed in Annex II
of the legislation. Annex III is split into two parts: Part IIIA
contains all temporary MRLs for substances still undergoing approval
for use at EU level or no longer approved for use in the EU, while
Annex IIIB contains temporary MRLs for all active substances for new
commodities (including cocoa) based on national MRLs, where risk
assessment has been performed by the European Food Safety Authority
(EFSA). Annex IV
contains products already assessed at EU level for which MRLs are not
- In September 2005, the ICCO Executive Committee adopted an Action
Programme on Pesticides in a drive to ensure that the new EU
legislation on MRLs introduced in February 2005 would not unduly affect
the cocoa sector by the imposition of unreasonable MRLs for cocoa
beans. In the framework of the Action Programme, the ICCO Secretariat
compiled comprehensive information on the types of pesticides used on
cocoa in producing Member countries. The information received was
subsequently sent to an expert on pesticide matters for comparison with
the EU Positive List. The expert provided the ICCO with a
comprehensive report which was presented at the 132nd meeting of the
Executive Committee in March 2007. The resulting technical advice was
directly passed on to the countries concerned.
- It was further suggested to all producing countries to carry out a
pesticide audit, prioritizing the issues. As an example, it was thought
that many residues originating from the treatment of cocoa beans in
storage constituted the highest risk group, followed by insecticides
applied in the field, fungicides and herbicides.
- The expert on pesticide matters was subsequently requested to
produce a Manual on the Safe Use of Pesticides in Cocoa Growing to
provide the necessary guidance to the relevant stakeholders. An outline
of the first draft of the Manual was presented to the Executive
Committee at its 136th meeting in May 2008. The completed
document is now available and has been placed on the ICCO website. The
ICCO Secretariat hereby presents a summary covering the salient points
of the Manual (www.icco.org).
Contents of the Document
- In the first and introductory section, the document provides a list
of the most common constraints (pests and diseases) faced by cocoa,
their geographical distribution in the world and the frequency of
pesticide use to control them. It also reviews the main categories of
stakeholders in the debate on pesticides, each with their separate
- The Agrochemical (now often called Life Sciences) industry:
principally the half dozen multinational companies which have made
considerable investment in new technologies and wish to protect their
interests with patents and confidentiality;
- Companies producing “generic” products: they benefit farmers by pushing down the prices of agrochemical products when patents expire (“off-patent” compounds);
- Consumer groups and activists: they voice concerns on the safety and/or usefulness of pesticides which are often shared by the general public. It is also argued that these groups need regular exposure to maintain their profile and to justify their existence;
- Media: they are interested in selling newspapers
and/or in viewer ratings, so sometimes they give priority to colourful
and sensational stories. They are not really interested in an
- National Governments and, increasingly, international bodies:
these bodies have to balance the various interests at hand and
establish an appropriate framework for the players involved to act in a
fair and efficient manner; and
- Research Scientists: they seek research grants to
continue to remain in employment and may be tempted to influence
research funding bodies by carefully timed and purpose-designed press
releases more for their own benefit than for that of the general
public. They may also over-emphasize a safety concern in order to
- After reviewing the stakeholders involved in the pesticides debate,
the document examines the main issues associated with chemical control.
- Safety aspects including real and potential risks to growers and consumers;
- Cost-effectiveness, perhaps of greatest interest to farmers;
- Technical problems with pesticide applications, including development of resistance and resurgence and
- Other sustainability concerns including general impact on the environment.
- The document then provides an overview on the importance of
pesticide registration and adherence to measures and regulations
published mainly by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the
World Health Organization (WHO), the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the
European Union, the US Environment Protection Agency, the Food
Sanitation Law in Japan and other leading agencies in the world.
- Finally, the concept of Integrated Crop Management is reviewed,
with its components (cultural methods, clonal selection and other
genetic methods, the preservation and/or manipulation of biological
agents and the application of chemical pesticides in a sensible way)
and that of Rational Pesticide Use (RPU) as a component of Good
Agricultural Practice (GAP).
- In the second section of the document, the term “pesticide” is
explained and the meaning of the names and composition of pesticides is
reviewed as well as their biological activity, application rate, types
of control, mode of action and technical problems encountered.
Finally bio pesticides, organic production and the search for
alternative viable solutions are examined.
- In the third section, the hazards of unsafe use of pesticides are
reviewed and the concept of Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for cocoa,
the safe use (Acceptable Daily Intake) and the biodegradation of
pesticides explained. Information is also provided on how MRLs for
cocoa are assessed in practice and what can be done to mitigate the
- In the fourth section, Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) are
reviewed, including matters to think about before picking up a sprayer,
Pesticide selection, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Maintenance
of equipment, How to spray cocoa, Containers and Hygiene and finally
- In the fifth section, good practices in crop storage are examined,
including the main pests associated with storage and the importance of
non-chemical controls, the application and timing of insecticide
treatments in storage, pesticide selection, inspection, sampling and
- In the sixth section, general and region-specific recommendations
are given as well as the need for focussed, practical research on
pesticide application and on strategic cocoa pesticides.
- In the annexes, some technical terms and abbreviations used in
pesticide science are presented, followed by the classification of
acute toxicity and the list of pesticides that must be avoided in cocoa.
- Finally, a list of websites of organizations that can provide further information on the subject is given.
- Since publication of the Manual in June 2008, new information has
come to light in relation to two products, Metalaxyl and
pirimiphos-methyl, listed in Appendix 3. Regarding Metalaxyl,
Regulation EC No. 1313/2007 dated 8 November 2007 allowed its use up to
the end of the year 2010. Metalaxyl must therefore be removed from
Appendix 3B (pesticides that must be avoided) and included in Appendix
3A (pesticides authorized for use in cocoa).
- Concerning pirimiphos-methyl, the ICCO has been informed by
Syngenta, manufacturer of the chemical compound, that products
containing this active ingredient should not be used on cocoa, whether
in the field, in post harvest treatment or in storage areas for cocoa,
as this could result in residues above the EU MRL of 0.05 mg/kg.
Pesticides containing pirimiphos-methyl, such as Cocostar and Actellic,
should be avoided on cocoa. Existing stocks should be disposed of
safely or used on crops for which it is officially approved.
Pirimiphos-methyl should therefore be considered as included in
Appendix 3B (pesticides that must be avoided on cocoa).
- The issue of pesticide residues is kept under constant review,
following decisions on MRLs for active substances taken by the European
Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and other leading international agencies.
In addition, new developments such as the issues described in
paragraphs 18-20 may come to light from time to time. Hence the ICCO is
presently making arrangements for the Manual on the Safe Use of
Pesticides to undergo periodic updates. The first update is due to take
place towards the end of the current year and a revised version of the
Manual is to be placed on the ICCO website in the first quarter of