Ultimatum on chemicals ban

Ultimatum on chemicals ban

NHSC told it could face legal action

"The NHSC should not be spending too much time figuring out what the replacement chemicals [for the toxic chemicals] should be", Chief Ombudsman Viddhavat Rajatanun said. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Office of the Ombudsman has warned the National Hazardous Substances Committee of consequences if it chooses to disregard a panel's recommendation to ban the use of three toxic farming chemicals.

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

"If [the 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 by NHSC members, the agency could recommend that the Criminal Court indict them.

"They could also face disciplinary probes," he said, before adding his office will be closely monitoring the NHSC's maneouvres.

Gen Viddhavat also slammed the NHSC for reportedly holding a closed-door meeting where they disagreed with a ban on 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 Thais.

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

"The NHSC should not be spending too much time figuring out what the replacement chemicals [for 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 reached 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 there will be no extensions of the deadline. If the NHSC agrees to impose the ban, the sale, import and production of the chemicals will be prohibited by law.

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