Anutin lashes out at opponents of bans on farm chemicals

Anutin lashes out at opponents of bans on farm chemicals

Farmers spray chemicals on a rice crop in Ayutthaya. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Farmers spray chemicals on a rice crop in Ayutthaya. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has lashed out harshly at people said to have threatened academics who support a ban on the use of three toxic farm chemicals, branding them "cowards and losers".

“Those making threats are cowards and losers. Come and have a go at me. Talk with me openly. Don’t hide. What do you get by intimidating academics? Come and threaten Mananya (Deputy Agriculture Minister Mananya Thaiset) and me,’’ an angry Mr Anutin said.

Asked about calls for the government to provide protection for those who received threats, the public health minister said police may be asked to do this.

Mr Mananya and Mr Anutin have several times promised a ban on the three toxic agricultural chemicals -- the herbicides paraquat and glyphosate and the pesticide cholorpyrifos. The public health minister said he will contnue to push for the ban.

Asked whether his Bhumjaithai Party had talked with Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit about the proposed ban, Mr Anutin said his party's stance on the issue was clear.

On Wednesday, Teerawat Hemajutha, a physician at Chulalongkorn University's faculty of medicine, said  he had been subject to acts of intimidation after he posted information about the toxic chemicals on his Facebook page.

He said a hospital staffer had received a call from someone asking to talk with him. Because the caller spoke aggressively, the staffer had asked that person to leave a message for him,  Dr Teerawat said.

Academic and researcher Puangrat Khajitwitchayanukul of Naresuan University, had also said she was intimidated by someone who walked behind her as she was about to board a flight to Bangkok, Dr Teerawat said.

Paraquat and glyphosate are herbicides, while chlorpyrifos is used by farmers against pests such as insects, mites, ticks and worms, and in non-agricultural areas such as golf courses and treatment of non-structural wood, including utility poles. 

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