Chemicals ban derailed by '4 forces'

Chemicals ban derailed by '4 forces'

BioThai, an anti-farm chemical pressure group, has alleged that "four major forces'' were behind the decision to scrap the ban on the herbicide glyphosate and delay the prohibitions against the herbicide paraquat and pesticide chlorpyrifos.

BioThai (Biodiversity & Food Sovereignty Action Thailand), which campaigned to have the chemicals banned, published an article titled "Analysis: 36 Days to derail the ban on glyphosate'' on its website on Thursday.

The group claimed the decision to derail the ban was the result of a joint effort by a Thai animal-feed producer, a group of herbicide producers, and two political parties in collusion with US entities.

BioThai also claimed Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party played a key role in thwarting the ban. He announced on Nov 1 that he would seek a review of the ban after he became the new chairman of the National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC).

BioThai also took aim at Agriculture Minister Chalermchai Sri-on of the Democrat Party. The group cited a letter, dated Sept 18, in which he allegedly told the Department of Agriculture to follow the NHSC's decision to restrict use of the three farm chemicals. Mr Chalermchai denied doing so. He also denied conflicts with his deputy Mananya Thaiset from Bhumjaithai Party.

Meanwhile, Jiraporn Limpananond, chair of the Pharmacy Council of Thailand, said on Facebook she had resigned from the NHSC on Wednesday night. She said committee members were not asked to vote on each point on Wednesday and instead were assumed to have accepted the resolution in general. In response, Mr Suriya said on Thursday he had asked if any member opposed any point of the decision.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Thursday he prioritised citizens' health but had no problem with the NHSC's decision. He also denied it had caused rifts among coalition parties. However, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul irritatedly said his party would consider whether to return the Department of Agriculture under Ms Mananya's responsibility into the hands of Minister Chalermchai.

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