The National Hazardous Substance Committee (NHSC) is standing by its scheduled ban on the herbicide paraquat and pesticide chlorpyrifos and restrict use of glyphosate instead of banning it.
The committee, at its meeting on Thursday, also ordered the Department of Agriculture under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative to look for substitutes for paraquat and chlorpyrifos.
Industry Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit, as the new committee chairman, said the NHSC has ordered the ministry to work out measures to deal with the impacts of the decision.
He said 24 of the 28 member-panel attended the meeting at the ministry offices. The NHSC's member voted to ban paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos. "Seventeen members agreed, six members disagreed and one did not vote," he said.
On Nov 27 last year the NHSC agreed to lift the ban on glyphosate and postpone the ban on chlorpyrifos and paraquat until June 1, 2020.
The panel reclassified the three farm chemicals from Type 3 toxic substances to Type 4, effectively prohibiting their production, import, export or possession.
Umaporn Pimolbutr, deputy ministry permanent secretary, said about three chemicals can be used as substitutes for paraquat and chlorpyrifos on the farm. However, they are expensive and may be out of reach for the average farmer.
Currently, about 10,000 tonnes of paraquat and chlorpyrifos are stockpiled in the country. These stocks must be delivered to the Department of Agriculture which will destroy them.
On Tuesday activists accused the govt of back-pedalling on its pledge to ban the agrichemicals amid speculation the NHSC would hold off on the ban until the end of the year.