Request to lift ban on two farm chemicals refused

Request to lift ban on two farm chemicals refused

A farmer sprays a rice field with chemicals in Ayutthaya. An industry sector request to  lift the ban on the use of the herbicide paraquat and pesticide chlorpyrifos has been rejected. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
A farmer sprays a rice field with chemicals in Ayutthaya. An industry sector request to lift the ban on the use of the herbicide paraquat and pesticide chlorpyrifos has been rejected. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

A request to extend the use of the herbicide paraquat and pesticide chlorpyrifos by pro-chemical alliances was rejected by the National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC) chaired by Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit.

Twenty out of the committee's 27 members voted to maintain the ban on the use of paraquat and chlorpyrifos in the agricultural sector, while four voted against and three abstained. The NHSC's final resolution ended a years-long effort by proponents of the chemicals to have the ban revoked.

The NHSC had voted on Sept 28 last year to ban the use of paraquat and chlorpyrifos, as well as to restrict the use of glyphosate in the agricultural sector by April 1.

The deadline was moved to June 1 following the push by pro-chemical groups, who petitioned the NHSC to further delay the enforcement of the ban by arguing there is no substituted chemicals to replace them. Moreover, farming production costs rose by 40% when farmers changed to more expensive agro-farming chemicals with less effective results.

However, strong pressure from civil society groups and the Ministry of Public Health finally put the NHSC in a position where it felt it must act. The committee also ordered the Ministry of Agriculture to find alternatives to help farmers cope with the financial impact of the ban.

Mr Suriya insisted this decision is final. There should not be any further requests to reconsider the resolution because the committee has made it clear these chemicals are dangerous to health and many other countries have also banned their use. Meanwhile, the government has vowed to replace the harmful agrochemical with alternatives which do not cost farmers too much.

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