Farmers rally for use of banned chemicals

Farmers rally for use of banned chemicals

A group of about 30 farmers on Wednesday rallied in Bangkok, calling for the government to revise its ban on the use of paraquat and chlorpyrifos in agriculture.

The ban on the use of these two chemical pesticides went into effect on June 1, and some farmers oppose it, calling other substances ineffective in pest control.

Led by Sukan Sangwanna, secretary-general of the Safe Farming Confederation, the group rallied outside the Department of Agriculture building, the Bhumjaithai Party headquarters, the Foundation for Consumers building and Government House yesterday.

The group reiterated their message that "there is no substitute for the chemicals" and that "farmers know how to use them safely".

Mr Sukan said many farmers have become frustrated because they are required to return any banned chemicals they have left to shops or face 10 years in prison and a fine of 1 million baht.

While these farmers are being forced to return the banned chemicals by Aug 29, the shops are not obligated to return their money, he said.

If the government insists on banning the chemicals, it should ban the import of agriculture products from countries still using paraquat and chlorpyrifos for crops, he said. The state should also impose a zero-tolerance policy towards the import of food products tainted by the chemicals, he added.

If the government failed to do so, the farmers would consider the import of the goods as "double standards".

The group also renewed their call to have the government limit the use of paraquat and chlorpyrifos instead of imposing a total ban.

On June 11, the group filed a petition with the Central Administrative Court, seeking an injunction to allow the use of paraquat and chlorpyrifos, which was banned by the National Hazardous Substances Committee. It cited the need for the substances to deal with weeds during the planting season.

The move was the group's second attempt to seek court protection.

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