Lack of alternatives rationale for Thai U-turn on glyphosate

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Mihajlo Maricic
© GettyImages/Mihajlo Maricic

Related tags pesticide

Thailand’s government yesterday went back on its plan to ban the controversial pesticide, glyphosate, and it also deferred bans on two other agricultural pesticides, paraquat and chlorpyrifos.

The authorities said they did so on the basis of the likely, negative impact from such a move on farmers, industry and international trade, citing the potential difficulties faced by Thai food and animal feed sectors in sourcing alternative raw materials.

Indeed, farmer associations in Thailand had been holding protests in opposition to the bans, arguing that the lack of cost-effective substitutes would challenge their businesses.

The US government also raised concerns about Thailand’s plans to ban the three chemicals, particularly glyphosate, citing fears about the possible impact on US agricultural export trade with the Southeast Asian country.

Last month, the Thai government’s National Hazardous Substances Committee voted to ban the use of glyphosate, paraquat and chlorpyrifos, identifying them as hazardous chemicals, from December 1, 2019.

It was planning to outlaw the import, trade, use and possession of the three chemicals, putting in place a zero-residue tolerance on imported feed and food products, according to a story​ on The West Australian.

On Wednesday (November 27), that Committee lifted the ban on glyphosate, saying its use could continue within current maximum residue limits, and it delayed the bans on paraquat and chlorpyrifos for six months to June 1.

Thailand’s industry minister, Suriya Jungrungreangkit, said the previous resolution was made without consideration of economic impact issues, reported the Bangkok Post.

“But after that, many stakeholders raised strong concerns on that point to the committee, regarding impacts on the food industry, international trade and the high amount of budget to eradicate 23,000 tons of them. Therefore, we reviewed it.

“However, please let it be noted that we remain firm in our position to ban the two other chemicals," ​added the minister. 

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