New committee countermands ban on toxic farm chemicals

New committee countermands ban on toxic farm chemicals

Industry Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit walks to a press conference at his ministry in Bangkok on Wednesday to announce that the new National Committee on Hazardous Substances has countermanded the total ban on three farm chemicals due to take effect on Sunday. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Industry Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit walks to a press conference at his ministry in Bangkok on Wednesday to announce that the new National Committee on Hazardous Substances has countermanded the total ban on three farm chemicals due to take effect on Sunday. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The new National Committee on Hazardous Substances on Wednesday decided to lift the scheduled ban on the herbicide glyphosate and delay the ban on the herbicide paraquat and pesticide chlorpyrifos for six months.

The committee which imposed the Dec 1 ban on all three farm chemicals completed its term on Oct 26. Some members are new, others ex officio. 

Industry Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit, as the new chairman, said 24 of the 29 members of the panel attended the meeting at the ministry offices.

After considering the information put before them, they agreed unanimously to lift the prohibition on glyphosate and postpone the ban on chlorpyrifos and paraquat until June 1 next year, he said.

For glyphosate, the committee re-adopted the previous resolution of May 23 last year, to limit its use instead of banning it, he said.

The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry would work out measures to cope with the impacts of the new resolution within four months. This would include the issue of alternatives for paraquat and chlorpyrifos, Mr Suriya said.

Wednesday's resolution dealt a last minute blow to conservationists and health activists, who had  applauded the Oct 22 resolution of the previous committee to ban the three toxic farm chemicals from this Sunday.

"The Dec 1 ban of the Oct 22 resolution is very short period and would have severe impacts that would also reach consumers, because prices would rise," Mr Suriya said.

The new committee's resolution followed several demonstrations by farmers and farm chemicals suppliers, who strongly opposed the immediate, total ban on the three chemicals, arguing it would reduce crop harvests and increase farm costs monumentally.

Wednesday's announcement also follows an approach by the United States for the government to review its decision on glyphosate, which is produced and marketed as Roundup by American agro-chemical giant Monsanto, now owned by German global pharmaceutical company Bayer.


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