Agriculture Ministry in toxic farm chemical limbo
published : 4 Dec 2019 at 17:09
writer: Apinya Wipatayotin
The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry still has no idea how it will handle three controversial toxic farm chemicals pending an official direction from the National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC).
Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chalermchai Sri-on said on Wednesday that NHSC had not sent its official resolution from its Nov 27 meeting that reviewed a proposed ban on the herbicides paraquat and glyphosate and the pesticide chlorpyrifos.
When reporters asked Mr Chalermchai what his ministry was doing with the three toxic chemicals, he said he could not relay any instructions to any organisation under his supervision pending the official conclusion from the national committee.
He said he was aware of the disputes arising from NHSC's resolution on Nov 27.
"Regarding arguments about the legitimacy of the resolution of the National Hazardous Substances Committee, the committee must make a clarification," Mr Chalermchai said.
On Oct 22, NHSC resolved to ban all three chemicals on Dec 1, but Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit has since insisted that the new line-up of the panel he now chaired decided unanimously to lift the ban on glyphosate and postpone the ban on the other two chemicals for six months.
Adding to the confusion, health authorities who sat on the committee then argued they did not relax the ban on the three substances in the latest meeting.
"Please be patient," Mr Chalermchai said. "If I give an answer without a clear conclusion, it can trigger further arguments. So I would like the National Hazardous Substances Committee to come to an official conclusion what government organisations including the Agriculture Ministry will do.
"Now I am worried that the ongoing conflict will affect farmers and consumers," he said.
Mr Chalermchai added that the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry was studying alternatives and promoting organic farming to reduce the use of farm chemicals.