Health Ministry up in arms over possible return to toxic chemicals

PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

Following a report that the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is proposing that a ban on the use of toxic chemicals be overturned, the Public Health Minister has called an urgent meeting with his officials. The use of paraquat, chlorpyrifos, and glyphosate has been banned since June, with farmers ordered to hand over their supplies or face heavy fines.

It’s understood that farmers are not keen on relinquishing the products, insisting proposed substitutes are ineffective. Nor has it been confirmed if they would be refunded the cost of the products if they hand them over as instructed. Until the ban in June, the use of paraquat and chlorpyrifos to control weeds and pests was widespread.

Thai PBS World reports that Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul is expected to call a press conference to reiterate his support for the ban, in particular on the pest control chemical, chlorpyrifos, and the weed killer, paraquat. The ministry is also planning a publicity campaign to highlight the health risks of the chemicals.

However, there are concerns that, should the National Hazardous Substances Committee put the matter to a vote, the health ministry could be out-voted, with the majority of committee members being from the Agriculture or Industry Ministries, both of which support the chemical industry.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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