WHO Specifications for Pesticides

Purpose of WHO specifications

The purpose of a pesticide specification is to establish and communicate specific physical/chemical characteristics of the pesticide source ingredients used in the formulation of end-use products, as well as of the end-use products themselves.

The specifications encompass the physical appearance of the material, its content of active ingredient(s) and any relevant impurities, physical and chemical properties and stability in storage.

The specifications do not encompass the chemical characteristics of the formulants, other than where they influence the physical characteristics (which include characteristics such as pH, acidity and alkalinity). The specifications do not include clauses which define the fundamental properties of the active ingredient – this includes the efficacy of the pesticide.

WHO and FAO joint agreement

In 2001, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) agreed to develop specifications for pesticides jointly, thus providing unique, robust and universally applicable standards for pesticide quality. This joint programme is based on a memorandum of understanding.

Disclaimer – As found in the Manual on development and use of FAO and WHO specifications for pesticides (First edition, third revision)

FAO and WHO specifications are developed with the basic objective of promoting, as far as practicable, the manufacture, distribution and use of pesticides that meet basic quality requirements.

Compliance with the specifications does not constitute an endorsement or warranty of the fitness of a particular pesticide for a particular purpose, including its suitability for the control of any given pest, or its suitability for use in a particular area. Owing to the complexity of the problems involved, the suitability of pesticides for a particular purpose and the content of the labelling instructions must be decided at the national or provincial level.

Furthermore, pesticides which are manufactured to comply with these specifications are not exempted from any safety regulation or other legal or administrative provision applicable to their manufacture, sale, transportation, storage, handling, preparation and/or use.

FAO and WHO disclaim any and all liability for any injury, death, loss, damage or other prejudice of any kind that may arise as a result of, or in connection with, the manufacture, sale, transportation, storage, handling, preparation and/or use of pesticides which are found, or are claimed, to have been manufactured to comply with these specifications.

Additionally, FAO and WHO wish to alert users to the fact that improper storage, handling, preparation and/or use of pesticides can result in either a lowering or complete loss of safety and/or efficacy.

FAO and WHO are not responsible, and do not accept any liability, for the testing of pesticides for compliance with the specifications, nor for any methods recommended and/or used for testing compliance. As a result, FAO and WHO do not in any way warrant or represent that any pesticide claimed to comply with a FAO or WHO specification actually does so.

FAO/WHO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Specifications

The FAO/WHO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Specifications (JMPS) is the expert body which is relied upon for the assessment of supporting scientific information and formulation of recommendations to the relevant Organization for the adoption, extension, amendment or withdrawal of pesticide specifications.

It is composed of individual members, collectively possessing the necessary knowledge to assess the relevant scientific information and aid in the development of specifications. Their opinions and recommendations to FAO/WHO are provided in their individual expert capacities, not as representatives of their countries or organizations.