Ombudsman to petition premier for paraquat ban

Ombudsman to petition premier for paraquat ban

The Ombudsman plans to petition Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to impose a ban on the farming chemical paraquat, starting from early next year.

In the petition, the premier will be asked to tell the cabinet to give a direct order to the Ministry of Industry to revise the regulation, classifying paraquat as a type-four toxic substance, which would prohibit its trade and possession, according to Raksagecha Chaechai, secretary-general of the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Office of the Ombudsman yesterday decided to petition the premier after the Industry Ministry failed to ask the Interior Ministry to ban the toxic farm chemical.

The office took heed of complaints lodged by consumer groups and studies from the Ministry of Public Health confirming the chemical is too hazardous to use on farms and should be banned.

Its effects include respiratory, reproductive system and kidney damage.

So far, over 50 countries have banned this chemical substance.

The Industry Ministry had refused to ban the chemical, citing a resolution issued by the National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC), which stipulates strict control instead of a total ban.

"Our case is not settled. So we need to take legal action by asking the cabinet to order [the ban]," Mr Raksagecha said. He said he hoped the government will respond to the office's request.

"It is the government's duty to protect the lives of its citizens and stop toxic contamination," he said.

According to Section 33 of the Office of the Ombudsman Act, the office can ask the National Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the damage caused by the government or state agencies' dereliction of duty.

Earlier in February, the NHSC, which is under the Ministry of Industry, rejected a call by a civic network led by the Thai Pesticides Alert Network to ban three harmful farm chemicals: paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos.

The 29-member committee said it needs to wait two years until new alternatives to the chemicals are available.

However, the civic groups raised doubts over the decision, that they say may have been made in favour of the businesses.

Yesterday the Education Ministry joined the Public Health Ministry in calls to push ahead with the ban on the three dangerous herbicides.

Deputy Education Minister Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich said she ordered several agricultural colleges not to use the three chemicals.

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