23 May 2024

In an apparent show of opposition to the National Hazardous Substances Committee’s about-face on the banning of paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos, three top public health officials have announced that the Ministry continues to support the ban.

Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr. Sukhum Kanchanapimai, Medical Science department chief Dr. Opas Karnkaweepong and Dr. Paisarn Dunkhum, secretary-general of Food and Drug Administration, told a joint news conference today (Thursday) that the ministry’s representatives on the NHSC repeatedly told the committee yesterday that they support the October 22nd resolution to ban all three chemicals as of December 1st.

The three officials said they had held a video conference with state hospital directors and provincial health chiefs around the country, all of whom have expressed concern over the rising number of victims of over-exposure to the hazardous agricultural chemicals, especially in provinces where rice, maize, tapioca and sugarcane are widely cultivated.

The Medical Science Department, which has been monitoring chemical residue in fruit and vegetables, cited a case in Phitsanuloke, where paraquat residue found in fruit and vegetables grown in the province is about 20 times the permissible limit.

Dr. Opas said his, and the Health Support Department, have trained about 80,000 health volunteers, whose main duty is to conduct random testing of fruit, vegetables and natural water sources to determine the amount of paraquat residue they contain.