Calls mount to ban farm chemicals

Calls mount to ban farm chemicals

NHSC claims it is seeking alternatives

The National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC) is under growing pressure to ban three farm chemicals when it meets on Wednesday to consider reports and proposals for alternatives to the substances.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he expects to see clarity over the proposed ban on paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos on Wednesday when the Agriculture Ministry tables its study to the NHSC for consideration.

Hundreds of civic and consumer organisations led by the Thai Pesticides Alert Network have been campaigning for the three farm chemicals to be banned by the end of this year.

The decision is to be made by the NHSC, which is under the Ministry of Industry.

The 29-member committee rejected the call for the ban in February this year, saying it needs to wait two years until new alternatives to the chemicals are made available, as the weed killers have been widely used by farmers in Thailand.

Gen Prayut also said the issue should be handled in a transparent manner when asked about Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Mananya Thaiset's complaint about a lack of cooperation from state agencies.

Ms Mananya, who along with Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has pledged to push for the ban, voiced frustration over a lack of cooperation when she demanded to know about stockpiles of the hazardous chemicals for the ministry's report on the proposed ban.

"The issue needs to be handled in an open and transparent manner. The proposed ban on the three chemicals is likely to get some clarity when the NHSC meets tomorrow," he said.

Meanwhile, Ms Mananya said on Tuesday she agreed with calls for the NHSC to hold an open ballot on the proposed ban, but that would depend on the meeting regulations and other restrictions.

"Those who want to continue the use of these chemicals should tell the public their reasons, right?" she said.

It was reported that the NHSC held a secret vote on the proposed ban every time the issue came up. In the previous one, the committee voted 16:5 in favour of continued use of the chemicals.

Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit on Tuesday voiced support for the proposed ban on the farming chemicals.

Mr Suriya said he agreed with the Public Health Ministry and Agriculture Ministry's calls for the ban on the three harmful chemicals, but noted that the decision rests with the NHSC, which is represented by several agencies.

If the NHSC resolves to ban the chemicals, the ban could take effect as early as next year, he said.

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