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‘Extremely poisonous’ pesticides found in blood of pregnant women

THAILAND: On Wednesday (Feb 13), members of the Pharmacy Council organised a small public protest to demand an immediate ban on two herbicides, paraquat and glyphosate, and the pesticide chlorpyrifos by the end of the year in the interests of public safety.

Thursday 14 February 2019, 09:34AM

A farmer sprays his crops. Two herbicides and an insecticide have been targeted by civil society for an immediate ban. (AFP file photo)

A farmer sprays his crops. Two herbicides and an insecticide have been targeted by civil society for an immediate ban. (AFP file photo)

In a statement released on Wednesday, council president Assoc Prof Jiraporn Limpananont said a ban would be in line with the internationally recognised precautionary principle on the control of hazardous substances, to protect farmers and consumers, and the principle of ensuring sustainable agricultural resources.

She said the three chemicals were extremely poisonous. A few teaspoons of paraquat were lethal. Researchers had found paraquat contamination in the blood of pregnant women, umbilical cords, meconium (a newborn’s faeces), water, plants and food.

Fifty-three countries had already banned its use, including the biggest producer of paraquat, China, she said.

Glyphosate was deemed a carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Researchers had found it in mothers and umbilical cords. Many countries had banned it and the chemical’s producer in Germany lost a major legal dispute, with nearly 10,000 lawsuits related to the weedkiller, Assoc Prof Jiraporn said.

Chlorpyrifos retarded children’s learning ability and had been found in the blood of pregnant women and umbilical cords. it was banned in many countries, including the United States, she said.

The three are still commonly used by Thai farmers in the cultivation of corn, cassava, sugarcane, rubber, oil palm, and fruits.

On Wednesday, members of the Pharmacy Council organised a small public protest to demand an immediate ban on paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos by the end of the year.

The government’s ad hoc committee on hazardous substances was expected to make a decision on the matter on Thursday.

However, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is signalling the national committee on hazardous substances should delay the move to impose a total ban on the use of a controversial herbicide in farming to 2021.

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On Tuesday, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Grisada Boonrach invited director-generals and other senior executives from his ministry – some of whom are members of the committee on hazardous substances – to discuss the ministry’s position on the matter.

A source from the meeting said the ministry wants the ban on paraquat to be imposed in 2021 instead. “For the time being, the ministry will issue an announcement to limit its import, and restrict its usage to very specific areas,” the source told the Bangkok Post.

After the meeting, Mr Grisada said the ministry believes that no toxic chemicals should be used in the agricultural sector, and it will provide further recommendations to limit the use of the herbicides and their alternatives.

“The committee, however, has full authority to make the decision on whether or not to ban them all,” he said.

Last week, the government’s committee, formed by the prime minister, forwarded its opinion on the use of the herbicides, as well as the results of a study carried out by the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT), which recommended a total ban.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Ombudsman last December submitted its suggestion to the national committee on hazardous substances, that it should ban paraquat by Jan 1, 2020.


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Pascale | 14 February 2019 - 19:12:55

How about doing a little research first before writing hasty comments.Someone would be surprised how many so called highly developed 4.0 countries are still using those chemicals.And those who do not use them anymore did not stop using them from one day to the next.Even worse,some of them still selling them to other,mostly 3rd world countries.4.0 country business thinking!

DeKaaskopp | 14 February 2019 - 14:47:37

"Mr.Grisada has a chemical factory" Can't find anything about that in the article,therefore it must be a false statement. Are those allowed on here?

Kurt | 14 February 2019 - 12:21:00

Strange that there is a time discussion about these health threatening chemicals in the thai food chain. Should be forbidden instantly, without all that bla bla. Chemicals already forbidden in  4.0 countries.
Mister Grisada has a chemical factory.   Oh, that explains. he likes to sell his stock first before closing down.  Thank you for health threatening business thinking.

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