Thai Health Ministry to oppose resumption of the use of toxic farm chemicals

Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) is up in arms against the possible resumption of the use of two hazardous substances, paraquat and chlorpyrifos, the use of which, in the agricultural sector, has been prohibited in Thailand since June.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul held an urgent meeting, with top public health officials, on Sunday at the Government complex, to discuss the reported latest proposal by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to the National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC) to revise its earlier decision to ban paraquat, chlorpyrifos and glyphosate.

Mr. Anutin is expected to hold a news conference on Monday, at the Ministry, to declare its wish to retain the ban on the substances, especially the weed killer paraquat and pest controller chlorpyrifos.

The MOPH will also launch a publicity campaign, to educate people about the health threats posed by paraquat and chlorpyrifos, which have been widely used by Thai farmers to control weeds and pests.

Despite being banned since June, farmers are reluctant to return the substances to their suppliers because of the lack of effective alternative substances, even though their possession is now illegal and punishable with heavy fines. It also remains unclear whether farmers will be refunded for the return of the chemicals.

The MOPH is reportedly afraid that it may lose if a vote is held, by the NHSC, to decide whether the ban should be lifted because it represents only two votes on the 27 member committee.

The committee is dominated by the Agriculture and Industry ministries, which are known for their support of the chemical industry.

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