Court delays chemical ban ruling

Court delays chemical ban ruling

No word on fate of injunction request

The Administrative Court on Wednesday postponed a ruling on a petition seeking an injunction to suspend the ban on three toxic farm chemicals.

The petition was filed on Monday by Asa Rak Mae Klong Group, a network of fruit growers in six provinces -- Chanthaburi, Ratchaburi, Samut Songkhram, Rayong, Suphan Buri and Nakhon Ratchasima.

More than 1,000 farmers in the group want the Administrative Court to help them as they are worried a change to other methods of pest control will be more expensive, forcing them to shoulder a heavier financial burden.

They asked for the injunction to be issued, claiming the process of banning the chemicals had been flawed.

The ban is due to take effect from Dec 1.

After spending the day listening to witnesses, the judges on Wednesday announced the Administrative Court needed to study further information, but did not specify when they will hand down their ruling.

The judges heard testimony from 10 witnesses who oppose the ban, led by farmers' representatives Anchulee Lak-amnuayporn and two former chiefs of the Department of Agriculture (DoA).

"Bringing the case to court is the last resort to seek justice," Anan Dalodom, who was previously in charge of the DoA, told the media before entering the court.

Mr Anan accused the National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC) of issuing the ban without any "real" farmers' on the committee, and without a thorough study of the impact and alternatives to replace the chemicals. They have threatened to lodge a huge bill for damages if their concerns are not heard.

The NHSC last Friday decided to ban the three popular yet toxic farm chemicals. The first two are herbicides -- paraquat and glyphosate, and the third is chlorpyrifos, an insecticide.

Paraquat, found by researchers to have residues that can be transferred from a mother to a foetus in the womb, has been banned in more than 50 nations.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Chalermchai Sri-on yesterday ordered a special committee to be formed to assist farmers affected by the ban. The committee, comprising 17 members, will find out information about innovations and alternatives to replace the three chemicals.

"The ministry regards this issue as its top priority. The ban will affect legions of farmers. So we need to prepare for alternatives and innovations that can help them cope with the transition," he said, adding the committee must find this information out before the ban kicks in.

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