Criminal probe threatened over toxic chemical ban delay

Criminal probe threatened over toxic chemical ban delay

Activists gather at the Chartthaipattana Party headquarters on Oct 8 with placards showing that 53,000 people have signed a petition to ban three toxic farm chemicals. (File photo)
Activists gather at the Chartthaipattana Party headquarters on Oct 8 with placards showing that 53,000 people have signed a petition to ban three toxic farm chemicals. (File photo)

The Office of the Ombudsman is warning the National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC) of the consequences it will have to face if it chooses to disregard a panel’s recommendation to ban the use of three toxic farming chemicals.

Chief Ombudsman Viddhavat Rajatanun said that as the NHSC has the final authority to institute the ban, it needs to have “a sound reason” if it decides to ignore the recommendation of the four-party panel, which is comprised of representatives from the government, importers of the chemicals, farmers and consumer groups.

“If [NHSC] decides to maintain its current stance on paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos, its members could be investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Commission for acting against public interests,” he said.

Furthermore, Gen Viddhavat said, if the NACC finds evidence of wrongdoing on the NHSC members’ part, the agency could recommend the Criminal Court to indict them.

“They could also face disciplinary probes,” he said, before adding that his office will be closely monitoring the NHSC’s maneouvres.

Gen Viddhavat also slammed the NHSC for reportedly holding a closed-door meeting, wherein they disagreed to ban the toxic farming chemicals.

“This isn’t right. The meeting should have been conducted openly,” he said, adding the NHSC should think about the health and safety of all Thai people.

He added that the priority is now to remove the three chemicals in question from the market.

“NHSC should not be spending too much time figuring out what the replacement chemicals [to the toxic chemicals] should be,” Gen Viddhavat.

Gen Viddhavat praised the four-party committee, chaired by Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Mananya Thaiset, for having come to an agreement on the ban.

Ms Mananya said the four-party committee has set a deadline of Dec 1 for the ban to come into effect — assuming the NHSC endorses the decision — before adding that there will be no extensions of the deadline.

If the NHSC agrees to institute and enforce the ban, the sales, import, and production of the three toxic farm chemicals will be prohibited by law.


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