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No ban on controversial toxic agriculture chemicals

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By Pratch Rujivanarom

A verdict on the use of herbicides and pesticides paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos has been handed down following a long debate between farmers, officials and environmentalists. This, despite opposition groups pointing out connections between some of the Committee members making the decision and the Agri-chemical companies.

The use of the controversial farming chemicals will continue to be allowed, but with tighter regulations and controls Somboon Yindeeyoungyuen, Industry Ministry deputy permanent secretary and chairman of the Hazardous Substance Committee that made the decision yesterday, says three main agro-chemicals will not be banned despite demands from various quarters.

But he says the Agriculture Department will have to come up with control regulations within two months. Somboon said 18 out of the committee’s 24 members approved the continued use of herbicides paraquat and glyphosate, and pesticide chlorpyrifos, but with more restrictions and safety regulations.

No ban on controversial toxic agriculture chemicals | News by The Thaiger

The committee members decided not to ban the three farm chemicals, as their impacts on health were still debatable and the arguments were not strong enough to warrant a ban.

He also said the alternatives to these three chemicals were not effective.

“The Agriculture Department will have to draft measures to control the use of paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos and place it before the Hazardous Substance Committee within the next two months,” he said.

“After the committee approves these control measures, they will be announced and enforced nationwide. The Agriculture Department will be the regulatory agency and have the responsibility of controlling the import, distribution and management of these chemicals.”

No ban on controversial toxic agriculture chemicals | News by The Thaiger

Somboon revealed that the criteria for the restrictions would be on where these chemicals could be used, the amount of import and distribution, the amount of use and management, and the qualifications of the users.

“The restrictions are intended to promote safe use of these chemicals, as it was clear that many people were harmed by these farm chemicals because of improper and careless use,” he said.

Even though paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos have not been banned, Somboon pointed out that the committee had also ordered the Agriculture Department to gather evidence of their impact on people’s health. If the evidence shows these chemicals to be really harmful, the committee can decide to ban them in the future.

Jiraporn Limpananon, a committee member from a consumer protection agency, revealed that despite her reminder that according to the law, committee members with conflict of interest on this issue have no right to vote, there was no reaction from the meeting and none of the committee members abstained.

“I presented scientific proof of the clear health threats from these chemicals to the meeting, which came from studies by 14 leading academic institutes of the country. I suggested that we ban these chemicals within two years, but as I am a minority in the committee I can only present one side of the information,” Jiraporn said.

Meanwhile, Manas Puttirat, head of the Oil Palm Farmer Union, said he was pleased by the committee’s decision not to ban paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos, as the farmers were very dependent on these chemicals. However, Manas expressed concern about the control measures, as the extent of the restrictions was not clear.

“We are ready to comply with the new regulations on the use of chemicals, if the terms of these regulations are acceptable and do not cause too much burden to the farmers,” he said.

369 organisations released a statement denouncing the Hazardous Substance Committee’s decision and threatened to demonstrate in front of Government House and boycott companies linked to these agro-chemicals. The statement said that the public sector was disappointed by the decision, despite clear scientific evidence of health threats from these chemicals.

They highlighted that some of the committee members have connections with the chemical companies, so their vote could be seen as a conflict of interest and violating the law.

“This conclusion reflected the improper structure of the Hazardous Substance Committee, as the committee is used to protect the interests of the agro-chemicals companies instead of the general public,”

Prokchon Usap, coordinator of Thailand Pesticide Alert Network, said, “we do not believe the Agriculture Department can really restrict the use of these harmful chemicals and we would like to urge the PM to order a review of this biased conclusion.”

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Crime

Another drug bust near the Mekong River, 500 kilograms of cannabis seized

Caitlin Ashworth

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Another drug bust near the Mekong River, 500 kilograms of cannabis seized | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MGR Online

In another drug bust in Northeastern province Nakhon Phanom, police arrested a man and seized 500 kilograms of compressed cannabis. Just yesterday, border patrol police in the province seized 920 kilograms of compressed cannabis from a boat on the Mekong River. In both cases, police suspect the cannabis came from Laos, just across the river.

Police say they searched a black Nissan Navara pickup around 1am in the province’s Na Kae district. Police opened the truck’s bed cover and found 12 sacks with 500 packages of dried, compacted cannabis. Each package of cannabis weighed 1 kilogram, similar to the previous bust on the river.

28 year old Saravut Butngam was arrested. Saravut previously worked in construction, but has recently been unemployed. He allegedly told police that a man called him with an opportunity to make 50,000 baht. He was told to drive the pickup truck from a petrol station in the Na Kae district to a specified location in the neighbouring province Sakon Nakhon, police say. From there, another driver would take over.

Border police commander Sippanan Sornkhunkaew says he suspects the cannabis seized in the province was trafficked from Laos across the Mekong River. He says he believes the cannabis was planned to be trafficked to Southern Thailand and then smuggled across the border, possibly to Malaysia.

On Sunday morning, police confiscated 920 kilograms of cannabis from a boat on the Mekong River. When police approached the boat, men jumped off onto a smaller boat and fled the scene. The dried, compacted cannabis was wrapped in 1 kilogram packages.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

How to Wai like a Thai, with Som | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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How to Wai like a Thai, with Som | VIDEO | The Thaiger

The wai, the polite gesture Thais use for greetings, farewells, prayers and even apologies, dates back to the 12th century, where both hands clasped together in front proved that you weren’t holding a weapon. That’s the folklore anyway.

Recently, the greeting has increased in general popularity around the world as a anti-Covid ‘safe’ replacement for the western handshake. So, how, when and with whom should you wai? Here’s a few easy tips to learn how to wai. Today Som teaches us some of the basics of the lovely Thai ‘wai’ (pronounced ‘why’).

As a foreigner you don’t look Thai, dress Thai and you probably can’t eat full-strength Thai curry either. So this means you’re exempt from Thailand’s most nuanced courtesies. There’s a lot of subtlety in the Thai wai so, chances are, you’re not going to get it right. But your best efforts will be appreciated.

How to wai when you’re uncertain? At a minimum, when someone wais to you, return the gesture with a kind smile and an acknowledging nod. In restaurants and shops: You’ll often receive a wai from shop and restaurant staff. It’s not necessary to wai in return to anyone providing you with a service of this nature. Instead, a nice (grateful) smile is plenty. To children / those younger than you:

Also, there’s no need to wai to a child or anyone who’s clearly younger than you – so, baby boomers, you’re increasingly in the clear! The wai is a mark of respect to elders.

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Bangkok

Thailand News Today | Bangkok protest fallout, northern fire bans | March 1

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Bangkok protest fallout, northern fire bans | March 1 | The Thaiger

Coming up today… the fallout from yesterday’s latest protest violence in Bangkok, the first vaccine in Thailand who got it, and a major drug haul along the Mekong.

But first we’ll start up north where Lampang Province is joining other northern provinces todday by putting a total fire ban in place from today, March 1, until the end of April. Chiang Mai also started a ban on all deliberately lit fires from today and Lamphun, just south of Chiang Mai, already has one in place.

The bans are timely after a horrid weekend of air pollution in many of Thailand’s provinces over the long weekend, even as far south as the tourist destination of Phuket where visibility was down to about 1 kilometre and the smell of smoke was noticeable.

Whilst up in the north… 4 Thai women were arrested at a security checkpoint in Tak’s Mae Sot district after they illegally crossed the border from Myanmar into Thailand.

Illegal casinos and fancy hi-so massage parlours in Myanmar in areas near the border, have attracted wealthy Thais and Burmese. The establishments have also attracted plenty of Thais looking for well-paid work across the border.

In a major bust along the Mekong River, a notorious hotzone for drug trafficking, border patrol police seized 920 kilograms of dried, compacted cannabis from a boat along the Nakhon Pathom riverbank, bordering Laos.

Now to the weekend violence as the protests resume where they left off last year…

At least 22 people were arrested during the major Bangkok protest yesterday. It turned violent as pro-democracy activists marched toward the Thai PM’s residence. It’s been reported that one officer died during the rally, reportedly due to heart failure.

At least 33 people were injured… that includes 23 police officers. The clashes happened in front of 1st Infantry Regiment barracks on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road and involved around 1,500-2,000 activists fromthe Restart Democracy movement, part of the Free Youth group. The group has been protesting against the government and calling for reform of the country’s constitution and monarchy since protests began in July of last year.

And Thailand’s Covid-19 vaccine campaign started with Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul who received the first of China’s Sinovac vaccine yesterday. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha was initially planned to be the first to kick off Thailand’s immunisation plan with the AstraZeneca vaccine, but due to problems with paperwork, the PM’s injection was postponed.

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