The government will set next year as the timeline to phase out the use of hazardous chemicals, to reduce their import and to reduce the areas where the chemicals are used, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Tuesday.
The prime minister thanked the anti-paraquat organizations for their demand that the herbicide and pesticide chlorpyrifos be banned, but said that he could not personally meet their representatives because he has many other matters to tend to.
He said he had paid attention to their concern and assigned representatives from the Agriculture and Public Health ministries and the Prime Minister’s Office to meet with them and to accept their proposal for consideration.
The prime minister gave an assurance that the government would look into their demand in earnest and asked them not to hold another rally.
About 150 members of the anti-paraquat organizations rallied in front of the Government House on Tuesday morning to demand a review of the Hazardous Substances Committee’s decision on May 23 to allowed the continued use of paraquat, chlorpyrifos and glyphosate.
In the afternoon, they went to the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives where they met with Agriculture Minister Krisda Boonrach.
The minister told the protesters that a joint committee comprising representatives of the anti-paraquat network would be set up to collect more information regarding the impacts from paraquat for submission to the Hazardous Substances Committee in the review of its earlier decision.
The anti-paraquat network made some observations about the Hazardous Substances Committee’s decision on May 23. One of the observations is that of the 12 members of a sub-committee to consider controls on the use of the three hazardous substances, including paraquat, four came from the Agriculture Ministry and another four who are known to support the Agriculture Ministry’s stance and not a single health expert.
Another observation is that the sub-committee used outdated information to back up their support for continued use of paraquat while ignoring updated reports about the hazards posed by the herbicide against health and environment.
Morever, the network alleged that at least three members of the Hazardous Substances Committee have vested interests with traders of herbicides.
The network proposed that paraquat and chlorpyrifos be phased out by the end of next year and that the Agriculture Ministry must find substitutes for the two chemicals which are not hazardous.
They claimed that up to 63 percent of farmers of economic crops such as rice, sugarcane, maize, rubber, tapioca and oil palm did not use paraquat in killing weeds.
During the transition period before the phase-out of the two chemicals, the network suggested that the Finance Ministry uses tax revenue from hazardous substances as incentives to encourage farmers to switch to other chemicals which are less hazardous.
Tags: Hazardous Substances Committee, observations, subcommittee on controls, phase out, end of next year, paraquat, chlorpyrifos