Mananya upbeat over chemical ban
Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Mananya Thaiset believes the controversy over three highly toxic farm chemicals will be settled next Tuesday, with the National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC) likely to vote in favour of a ban.
The four agricultural officials who sit on the 29-member NHSC must fall in line after the ministry-assigned panel voted 9-0 in favour of the ban, Ms Mananya said on Monday.
"There's nothing to worry our representatives," she claimed.
Ms Mananya set up the panel to consider the uses of paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed concern over the health impacts of the chemicals.
The NHSC previously decided only to restrict the chemicals' use until better alternatives are found. However, its decision disappointed the Public Health Ministry and health advocates.
Ms Mananya said she expects the committee to change its stance on Oct 22 when its members meet to reconsider the issue, adding she is now 90% confident the chemicals will be banned after the Industry Ministry, whose representatives are also on the NHSC, reaffirmed that it will vote in favour.
However, if the committee rejects a ban, it may mean that some members have "received something that can change or influence them", the deputy minister warned.
In many provinces, health advocates have long been demanding the government ban the three chemicals due to their harmful impact on people's health and the environment.
Dr Banjerd Sukpipatpanon, a public health officer in Trang, said that in random blood tests on 13,764 people from 2017 to the present, 2,972, or over 22%, showed unsafe amounts of these substances.
Among them, 47 people sought treatment for illnesses caused by the chemicals, he said.