Mananya hurries ban for chemicals

Monday’s recommendation by a four-party panel to ban three toxic farming chemicals could reach the National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC), the authority which can turn it into law, as soon as this week, says Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Mananya Thaiset.

Ms Mananya said the NHSC was originally scheduled to meet on Oct 27 to consider the committee’s advice to ban paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos.

However, the deputy minister said she was rushing to forward the decision to the NHSC as early as this week so the NHSC can start considering the issue right away.

However, before the decision reaches the NHSC, it must be endorsed first by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Agriculture Minister Chalermchai Sri-on, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit.

Ms Mananya said the four-party committee, represented by the government, importers of the three chemicals (who did not attend the vote), farmers and consumers, has set a deadline of Dec 1 for the ban to come into effect, assuming the NHSC endorses the decision.

If and when the ban is legally enforced, selling, importing and producing the three chemicals will be against the law.

She insisted there will be no extensions of the deadline.

Ms Mananya said all the paperwork was expected to be ready to present to the premier, relevant ministers and the NHSC on Tuesday.

She said during Monday’s meeting, consumer representatives revealed that farmers could buy the three chemicals freely from shops despite them being classified as substances subject to tight controls.

According to state regulations, buyers of the chemicals must be licensed by the Agriculture Ministry.

“The reality where anyone can walk into a shop and buy [the chemicals] off the shelf shows that the state regulation of the chemicals was useless,” Ms Mananya said, adding that other highly toxic farm chemicals will also be banned in the future.

Meanwhile, Udon Thani Regional Hospital, several public health offices, Loei Hospital and health safety advocates in Chiang Rai have rallied behind the proposed ban.

They put up signs outside their offices saying a ban would save a lot of lives. According to one banner hung outside Udon Thani Regional Hospital, herbicides sicken 14,000 people a year on average and kill more than 600.

In Chiang Rai, the Health Assembly released a statement saying the government must demonstrate it is committed to enforcing the ban.

It also demanded the government provide farmers with information about alternatives after the three chemicals are removed from the market as well as calling on it to make the NHSC’s vote on a ban public.

Ms Mananya said there are less toxic farm chemicals that can be used as replacements, though they may also be a little less effective in killing weeds and pests.

She also denied a large business is looking to import new farm chemicals as a substitute for the three hazardous chemicals.

Source: Bangkok Post
Published on 9 October 2019
Link: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1767889/mananya-hurries-ban-for-chemicals

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