US glyphosate letter riles govt
Thai position will be explained to embassy
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday said officials would be assigned to clearly explain Thailand’s position to the US embassy about an official document submitted to the Thai government objecting to the country’s policy of banning three toxic farm chemicals.
The National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC) had earlier changed the status of the three farm chemicals from Type 3 toxic substances to Type 4, which prohibits their production, import, export or possession.
Effective on Dec 1, the ban will cover weed killers paraquat and glyphosate and the pesticide chlorpyrifos.
In particular, the US is urging Thailand to delay the ban of glyphosate, said an informed source, citing a copy of the letter sent to the premier and eight other cabinet ministers.
A copy of a document from Ted A McKinney, Under Secretary, Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, US Department of Agriculture, in support of the US claim that Thailand’s ban on glyphosate will affect the import of soybeans and wheat into Thailand was also enclosed.
“I am concerned that Thailand’s National Hazardous Substance Committee [NHSC] may take action to ban glyphosate without fully considering the scientific evidence,” the letter said.
“Should a ban be implemented, it would severely impact Thailand’s imports of agricultural commodities such as soybeans and wheat. I am hopeful that Thailand will consider these concerns and maintain current glyphosate maximum residue limits,” the letter said.
The US also cited an assessment by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as scientific opinions by some other agencies in Japan, the EU, Australia and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations to back its claim that the use of glyphosate in farming poses no harm to the health of humans.
In response to the US move, Biodiversity Sustainable Agriculture Food Sovereignty Action Thailand (Biothai) posted on its Facebook page that the US opposition to Thailand’s ban on glyphosate was the result of the influence of a powerful company selling the chemical in the US.
The ban on glyphosate will affect the company’s exports of the chemical to Thailand, said Biothai.
According to Biothai, soybeans, corn and several other farm products in the US were found to be contaminated with glyphosate, which prompted the US government to announce that it was raising the maximum residue levels of glyphosate allowed in these products to ensure they could still be sold legally.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and Deputy Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives Mananya Thaiset, who advocated the ban, insisted it should proceed.
The US has every right to worry about its trade benefits while the Thai government is responsible for ensuring the safety of consumer products, said Mr Anutin.
“Fearing they [the US] won’t be able to sell their products, they are now asking us to lift the ban. Should we bow to this move?” Mr Anutin said.
The NHSC consists of 29 members who are experts in the field and they have been studying the pros and cons of the ban for a long time, he said.
A group of farmers who grow six economic crops is planning to petition the Administrative Court to hand down an injunction against the chemical ban on Monday.