Grisada plots immediate paraquat ban
Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Grisada Boonrach yesterday expressed his desire to leave a legacy before leaving office by imposing an immediate ban on three toxic farm chemicals, namely paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos.
He is reported to have sent an urgent letter to the permanent secretary for the ministry and the director-general of the Department of Agriculture ordering them to find out the names of natural substances or other weed-killing methods that can be used instead of the three chemicals.
Fifty-three countries, including Vietnam, Laos and recently China, a major paraquat exporter, have banned paraquat, while 17 countries limit the use of all three chemicals.
Mr Grisada said that he has instructed two officers to explore the legal avenues for imposing a ban on the chemicals' import right away.
"I am ready to sign the [banning] order before leaving the position," he told media.
This move marks a policy U-turn as the Ministry of Agriculture has been criticised for dragging its feet in phasing out the farm chemicals.
He explained that despite restrictions on the import of the substances, they were still being smuggled into the country.
"A ban is needed to prevent people from being exposed to the hazardous pesticides," Mr Grisada said.
The national committee on hazardous substances in February decided to delay a ban stating it would only support the use of the chemicals until new substances can replace them.
The panel said that it would evaluate the controlled use of the chemicals every three months.
In April, the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry set 2020 as the year to abandon all the three chemicals.