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Groups slam partial ban on ‘dangerous’ farm chemicals

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Several organisations have lambasted the Hazardous Substance Committee’s (HSC) decision to ban three “dangerous” chemicals only in farms that produce household vegetables and herbs.

Despite their reported adverse impacts on human health and the environment, paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos will still be allowed for use on economic crops such as sugarcane, cassava, and corn. 
Thailand Pesticide Alert Network (Thai-PAN) co-ordinator Prokchol Ousap on Friday criticised the resolution that fell short of a total ban. 
On Thursday, HSC secretary Mongkol Pruekwatana announced that the HSC had resolved to assign the Agriculture Department to prepare clear measures to ban the use of paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos at farms that produce household vegetables and herbs only. The committee also restricted the use of the chemicals for economic crops by banning the use in areas near water sources. 
He added that the HSC had planned to impose a total ban on the three chemicals within the next year or two if there were good alternatives. 
The BIOThai Foundation said the restricted use had proved unpractical in several countries previously. 
Chuchai Supawong, who chairs a panel on biodiversity reform, said via Facebook that economic crops play a big role in the food chain. He pointed out that sugarcane was used in all kinds of desserts and snacks, cassava in glass noodles and flour, and corn in animal feed. 
The Community Hospital Directors of Thailand Club has expressed full support for Deputy Agriculture Minister Wiwat Salyakamthorn’s stance to completely ban paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos.
The club has quoted Chulalongkorn University’s medical lecturer Dr Thiravat Hemachudha saying that the chemicals are dangerous and endanger people’s health. 
Research by Naresuan University academics in Nong Bua Lamphu’s Suwannakhuha district, which was conducted last December, found local vegetables such as chillies and basil leaves were contaminated with paraquat. 
Thai-PAN has also detected a high level of paraquat in 38 of 76 vegetable samples that were collected from supermarkets. 

Published : August 31, 2018

By : Chularat Saengpassa The Nation