Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is currently non-committal about the banning or restriction of paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos, saying that the matter should be resolved in accordance with formal procedures.
The issue has divided people into two camps, civic and consumer groups who support completely banning the three hazardous farm chemicals and farmers who support restricting their use, as earlier proposed by the National Hazardous Substances Committee.
There have been reports of a showdown at the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives on Wednesday when a group of oil palm farmers showed up to voice their objection to a complete ban, while the opposing group, Biothai, also showed up to demand a complete ban.
Both Agriculture Minister Chalermchai Sri-on of the Democrat party and his deputy from Bhumjaithai party, Mrs. Mananya Thaiseth, claimed they were unwell and did not meet with the opposing groups.
Human rights commissioner Mrs. Prakairat Tanthirawong said yesterday that, in February, the National Human Rights Commission proposed a ban on the production, import, export and possession of paraquat, that the Agriculture Ministry adopt long-term measures for the use of farm chemicals and that they develop alternative chemicals. The commission also proposed that the cabinet should enact laws to control farm chemicals to prevent the harmful impacts caused by their use.
She emphasized that the government must give top priority to protecting the safety of consumers and act in the public interest.