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Three experts quit panel studying high-risk pesticides, suspect it of ulterior motives

THREE ACADEMICS have quit a committee tasked with handling the problems of high-risk chemical pesticides over suspicion of the panel’s ulterior motives.

Professor Dr Thiravat Hemachudha, Professor Pornpimol Kongtip and Assoc Professor Puangrat Kajitvichyanukul resigned on Wednesday as independent committee members. The committee was tasked with seeking solutions to common farm chemicals, namely paraquat, chlorpyrifos and glyphosate.
“There’s no point in being part of this committee because it has ignored plenty of reliable academic and scientifically-proven information,” Thiravat said at a recent press conference.
“We suspect this committee intends to stick with Hazardous Substance Committee [HSC]’s resolution to only restrict the use of these chemicals. Also, four members of the panel [which he was part of] have ties with agriculture-chemical firms.” 
HSC’s resolution, which was passed in May last year, has generated controversy given that the Public Health Ministry announced that these chemicals be banned since 2017. 
Several studies show that these chemicals have contaminated the environment and are a threat to people’s health, and paraquat has been banned across Europe since 2007 because of its health impacts. The three academics also believe these three “dangerous” chemicals should be banned. 
Meanwhile, PM’s Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyu-vardhana, who chairs the committee seeking solutions to the three farm chemicals, said yesterday that he had yet to receive the academics’ resignation letter. 
“The committee, is in fact, currently gathering relevant information and will also submit the opinion of the National Research Council of Thailand to the HSC,” Suwaphan said. 
The HSC is scheduled to consider the issue on February 14. 
Thiravat also called on all stakeholders to closely monitor HSC’s resolution. 
“A resolution to curb, abandon or end the use of these chemicals without a specific timeframe is meaningless,” Thirvat pointed out, adding that if this junta-run government really cared about people’s health, it would have set a clear timeframe for a complete ban. 
Meanwhile, the Foundation for Consumers and its allies said seven prominent companies in the sugar industry have this week implemented a policy to curb or stop the use of paraquat. 
“Other sugar manufacturers have also said that they will comply with a paraquat ban if it is issued,” the non-governmental organisations chorused, adding that they hope the policymakers would give priority to people’s health when formulating a resolution. 

Published : February 07, 2019

By : The Nation