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Health Ministry vows to curb use of dangerous agrochemicals

Feb 15. 2019
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By The Nation

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The Public Health Ministry will do everything within its power to discourage the use of three dangerous agrochemicals, following a ruling that paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyfiros will be allowed in Thailand for at least two more years.

A day after the Hazardous Substance Committee (HSC) passed a resolution permitting the use of the hazardous farm chemicals, Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, said: “We respect the HSC’s decision but we will do what we can to curb the use of these substances.” 

He said the ministry will step up campaigns that all hospitals use only chemical-free vegetables for patient meals. 

“We will also seek to boost public awareness of the dangers of tainted crops,” Piyasakol said. “We will try to make clear to farmers that organic produce is in high demand too.” 

The Public Health Ministry has called for a ban on the dangerous agrochemicals since 2017. 

Several organisations have also urged a halt to their use, pointing to research that shows paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyfiros are a health hazard. 

Last year, a research team detected high concentrations of paraquat in some areas of Nong Bua Lamphu’s Suwannakhuha district. The findings emerged a year after 102 people in Nong Bua Lamphu came down with Necrotising fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease, and six of them died.

Prof Dr Thiravat Hemachudha, a medical lecturer at the Chulalongkorn University, said the HSC resolution was a big disappointment. 

“There is clear research to confirm the danger of paraquat,” he said. 

He said research by the Mahidol University, for example, clearly shows that pregnant women working in the farm sector have a higher risk of paraquat exposure. 

“The research has even found paraquat in their newborn babies’ meconium,” Thiravat said. 

Earlier this month, Thiravat was among three academics who left the committee that is tasked with handling the problem of high-risk chemical pesticides, over suspicions the panel had ulterior motives.

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