Group warns lawsuit over ban
The Thai Agricultural Innovation Trade Association (Taita), a coalition of supporters of the three toxic farming chemicals, threatened to go to the Administrative Court if the National Hazardous Substance Committee (NHSC) followed through with the ban.
Manus Phuttarat, a member of Taita and chairman of the Palm Oil Farmers' Federation said the group of farmers who use and hold these chemicals in stock will ask for temporary protection from the Administrative Court.
Next Tuesday, the NHSC will convene a crucial meeting to decide whether to ban paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos, the popular yet hazardous farm chemicals which have been restricted and banned in several other countries. Taita on Wednesday sent a letter to the NHSC, asking for the committee to make a well thought-out decision based on scientific facts.
Voranica Nagavajara Bedinghaus, Taita's executive director, claimed the government would have to pay 10 billion baht to buy back and dispose of 40,000 tonnes currently kept in market stocks and 10,000 tonnes that are stocked by farmers. She claimed the farming industry would collapse because 5 million farmers, who collectively work on 149 million rai, would need to shoulder the higher costs resulting from the ban.
"Of course, we agree the chemicals are dangerous, so farmers need to be educated on how to use them safely. However, we don't think it is appropriate to implement an immediate ban."
She also claimed there are no other farming chemicals that can match paraquat and glyphosate in terms of price and efficiency, and that alternative substances would make the cost of farming products increase by 12-14 times.
In another development, Agriculture Minister Chalermchai Sri-on is working to have three toxic farm chemicals to reclassified, edging them closer to a total ban.
Mr Chalermchai signed an order posted by Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on his Facebook on Wednesday.
The order seeks a downgrade of the status of paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos, from Class 3 substances to those in Class 4 in which the chemicals are prohibited from being imported, used and owned.
The reclassification, however, is timed to take effect on Dec 1, which marks the deadline for the ban to be legally enforced, assuming the National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC), which has the final authority on the matter, backs such a ban.
The ban was recommended by the four-party committee established on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's order. Chaired by Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Mananya Thaiset, the committee -- representing the government, importers of the three chemicals, farmers and consumers -- voted unanimously on Oct 7 in favour of the ban.
Ms Mananya said earlier the NHSC was originally scheduled to meet on Oct 22 to consider the committee's advice to ban the three chemicals. On Wednesday, Mr Anutin thanked Mr Chalermchai for his efforts to have the three chemicals banned.