Prayut 'gives full support' to chemical ban

Prayut 'gives full support' to chemical ban

Cassava growers from the Northeast rally on Tuesday outside the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry against attempts to ban three toxic farm chemicals, including paraquat. Varuth Hirunyatheb
Cassava growers from the Northeast rally on Tuesday outside the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry against attempts to ban three toxic farm chemicals, including paraquat. Varuth Hirunyatheb

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has thrown his full support behind a ban of the three toxic farm chemicals, while Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul insisted the premier should take action if the National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC) rejects the recommended ban.

Gen Prayut said he has always made it clear that he believes the use of the three chemicals must be reduced and eventually removed from the market. Today, the government is still preparing for the ban. It is up to the NHSC to devise measures to accommodate the ban of paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos, according to Gen Prayut.

Pressure is mounting on the 29-member NHSC to put the ban in place at its meeting next Tuesday. The NHSC members include four representatives from the Agriculture Ministry. Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Mananya Thaiset said last week that they must vote in line with the ministry-assigned panel's unanimous decision in favour of the ban.

Meanwhile, Mr Anutin, also the leader of the Bhumjaithai Party, of which Ms Mananya is a member, said the Public Health Ministry has clearly expressed its opposition to the use of the three chemicals.

"The three ministers [connected to the farm chemical issue] all voiced their disapproval of the continued use of the chemicals," said Mr Anutin, referring to himself, Agriculture Minister Chalermchai Sri-on and Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit.

"That's even clearer than clear," the public health minister said.

Mr Anutin added that next Tuesday's NHSC vote on the chemical ban should be made public. The Bhumjaithai ministers represented on the committee will definitely propose that the vote be disclosed publicly, he said. The public health minister insisted that if the NHSC decides to reject the ban, Gen Prayut must "step in and act". He did not elaborate.

Atiwan Hormnan, chair of the Phayao provincial agriculture council, said the three chemicals need to be banned immediately because they poison the soil and sicken the farmers who use them.

Some weeds have also developed resistance to herbicides, resulting in increased use of the chemicals.


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