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US countered on call for delay of agro-chemical ban

Oct 26. 2019
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By The Nation

Vitoon Leanjamroon, director of BioThai Foundation, has countered the call by US Agricultural Department for a delay on the ban on agro-chemical glyphosate. The US agency said the ban would disrupt Thailand’s import of soybean, wheat, coffee, apples, grapes and other agricultural produce, worth up to Bt51 billion annually, from the US and other trading partners.

Vitoon believed it showed the US was trying to interfere with the ban on the agro-chemical in Thailand to protect its interest in agricultural exports to the Kingdom.

The US claimed that its Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that glyphosate poses no meaningful risk to human health when used as authorised. Vitoon found the claim false as Thailand based its decision on data in the report from the International Cancer Research Organisation (IARC) under the World Health Organization (WHO) and verdict of the United States Court of Justice (on March 27, 2019) on the case of Monsanto. The giant pesticide company was ordered to paid Bt2.5 billion in compensation to people who developed cancer from using three glyphosate-mix herbicides. The judge's ruling was based on the scientific evidence of IARC.

“Thailand’s ban on the pesticide went through discussions and scientific evidence. His [Ted McKinney's] claim that we didn’t make a decision based on science appears false. Moreover, the California court also ordered the ban of chlorpyrifos,” Vitoon said

He said Ted McKinney, the undersecretary of Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs of the US Department of Agriculture and the author of a letter to the Thai prime minister seeking a delay on the ban, had worked at Dow AgroSciences, one of the biggest agro-chemical manufacturer and distributors in the United States, for 19 years.

The company was reportedly a venture capitalist for the Donald Trump government, leading him to believe that was the reason the US had not banned the use of chlorpyrifos.

The US claimed that the ban on glyphosate would instantly pause the imports of soy, wheat and other US agricultural produce, affecting Bt51 billion in exports. It will also affect crispy pastry and instant noodle manufacturers who rely on imported wheat from the US as Thailand will set the residue of such chemicals to 0 per cent on imports.

This claim was also false, he said, as chemical checking of imported agriculture and food in Thailand are based on safe residues in accordance with international food standards (Codex) under the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Thailand also does not only import soybean and wheat from the United States. It also sources the produce from other countries, such as Brazil, Argentina, and Ukraine.The imports are randomly checked for chemical residues in accordance with international standards.

“How can we only ban US products but not those from other countries. That is discrimination,” the BioThai director said.

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