Farmers rally against chemical ban

Farmers rally against chemical ban

Claim move will cause prices to rise

About 1,000 farmers and chemical suppliers rallied outside Government House on Tuesday against the imminent ban on three toxic farm chemicals, demanding a thorough study of its impact on farmers and businesses.

The demonstrators were led by representatives from the Thai Agricultural Innovation Trade Association, the Thai Agro Business Association and the Thai Crop Protection Association.

They objected to a decision by the National Committee on Hazardous Substances (NCHS) on Oct 22 to ban two herbicides -- paraquat and glyphosate -- and the pesticide chlorpyrifos from Dec 1, because they pose a health risk.

According to the protesters, the Oct 22 resolution did not take into account new scientific evidence and the ban's effect on farmers and the national economy.

In a written submission to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, they also said that at a public hearing on Nov 8, more than 70% of participants disagreed with the ban.

The government had also not proposed measures to mitigate the impact of the ban on farmers, agricultural and food industries as well as consumers, they said.

According to the submission, the ban would weaken the competitiveness of more than 2 million farming families by decreasing crop yields by 20-30% while raising costs by a threefold.

The protesters also asked the government to make reasonable alternatives for the three chemicals available.

They also demanded the government to at least postpone the ban until a thorough study on the ban's impact on farmers, businesses and the economy is completed.

The protesters are planning to visit the Industry Ministry today, where the minister, Suriya Jungrungreangkit, is expected to chair a meeting of the NCHS.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, in his capacity as chairman of the government's committee on national policy on chemical management, said that it will be up to the NCHS to decide whether to consider a call for any changes to its Oct 22 resolution.

However, its unlikely the panel will reverse the ban, he said.

Despite saying the government is willing to listen to opinions by all sides concerning the ban, Mr Anutin said as the public health minister he stands firm on his stance against any policy that may post a threat to the public health.

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