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Toxic Chemical Ban Postponed in Thailand for Six Months

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Thailand’s National Committee on Hazardous Substances has postponed its chemical ban on paraquat and chlorpyrifos for six months. The postponement will be from from Dec 1 to June 1 next year and limit the use of glyphosate.

The chairman of the committee, said the panel took into consideration information and opinions before making the unanimous decision. The resolution came from 24 of 29 members at today’s meeting to postpone the chemical ban.

The decision followed a public hearing earlier this month which showed 75 per cent of people were against the ban due to the short time frame given to those affected.

The chemical ban means that no agricultural produce found with residue of the chemicals can be sold. This would also create widespread ripple effects, the committee reported.

“If we impose the ban now, it will be chaos,” said Mr Anan Suwannarat, the permanent secretary of the Agriculture Ministry. “We also found that it could cost us hundreds of billions of baht if we ban glyphosate now as we wouldn’t be able to import Soy beans from the US and Brazil.”

The United States, where glyphosate is widely used, urged Thailand late last month to impose a maximum residue limit on the substance. Instead of a complete ban on glyphosate.

The US exported US$593 million worth of soy beans and US$180 million worth of wheat to Thailand last year.

Thailand’s Farmers Rally Against Chemical Ban

Black-clad farmers holding banners identifying themselves as sugarcane farmers from Surin join the rally against the ban on three farm chemicals, at Government House in Bangkok

This week, thousands of farmers gathered in Bangkok to demand a delay on the Chemical ban. Wanting a sound scientific study to determine if the substances are truly hazardous.

Mr Charuk Sriputtachart, a farmer representative, warned that the ban could affect up to two million farming households. It would also lead to a threefold increase in production costs. Also it would cause a dip of between 20 per cent and 30 per cent in agricultural produce.

It is also expected to affect the employment of 12 million workers in the industrial, agricultural and food sectors, leading to economic losses of about 1.7 trillion baht.

Chemical Ban in on three controversial chemicals

Paraquat can cause lung congestion, convulsions and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Chlorpyrifos has been linked to low IQ and brain damage in children, and developmental and auto-immune disorders. Glyphosate can cause problems such as eye and skin irritation.