By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM
THREE NATIONAL reform committees – public health, social, and natural resources and environment – met yesterday in an attempt to settle a protracted problem of hazardous agrochemicals and ensure that consumers are properly protected from food safety problems.
Dr Seree Tuchinda, the head of the national Healthcare Reform Committee, said his committee had agreed to fully support the prohibition of three harmful farm chemicals – paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos – in the Kingdom.
The ban is needed to ensure successful implementation of the national food safety policy and to enhance protection for consumers, Seree said.
Academics and public health experts had provided scientific evidence to conclude these farm chemicals have serious impacts on health, he said.
However, the national Hazardous Substance Committee had extended the use of the two toxic herbicides and a pesticide in a recent move that drew heavy criticism.
The national Healthcare Reform Committee will work with the national social, and natural resources and environment reform committees to solve the problem, he said, and ensure that people are protected from chemical contamination in the environment and their food.
The Healthcare Reform Committee will also work with Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to shift the nation’s agriculture toward organic farming and push food safety policies, he added.
Meanwhile, Dr Thiravat Hemachudha, a medical professor at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, said the three-committee effort is the most plausible path to finding a solution for this issue.
Thiravat, who is a member of the Health Reform Committee, said anybody exposed to toxic agrochemicals could learn from a recent California court case in which a man successfully won compensation from Monsanto after a weedkiller it manufactures caused him cancer.
“Many more people in Thailand have been affected by these hazardous chemicals, ranging from gangrene, slow child development, cancer and brain diseases. [They] could also sue the chemical companies, but the major problems are most of these victims do not know that they have this right or they cannot access financial and legal support for the lawsuit,” he said.
Thiravat predicted that the result of the meeting would not differ much from the outcome of the previous Hazardous Substance Committee.
It will amount to just another time-consuming tactic by corrupt officials to further prolong the problem and allow agrochemical companies to continue making profit, he said.