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​NHRC investigates ongoing use of toxic herbicide

Graphic: A farm worker in Thailand sprays a rice field

The inquiry reframes the exposure of farmers and consumers to toxic chemicals as a potential human rights violation.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is investigating the Agriculture Department over allegations that it violated human rights last October by extending the licences for many companies to sell paraquat, an herbicide used on farms across the country.

The extension was approved even though a committee examining the risk caused by farm chemicals, and chaired by the Public Health Minister, concluded on April 5, 2017 that paraquat should face a total ban before the end of 2019 due to the health risks it posed.

The NHRC's inquiry reframes the exposure of farmers and consumers to toxic chemicals as a potential human rights violation, The Nation reported.

Academic experts and representatives from the Agriculture Department have been summoned to testify at the NHRC's hearing, said Foundation for Consumers official Patchara Klaewkla.

The NHRC took the action in response to the Foundation's complaint, he added.

Associate Professor Puangrat Kajitvichyanukul from Naresuan University will also provide information to the inquiry.

Puangrat spoke out earlier this year about the possible link between high concentrations of paraquat in Nong Bua Lamphu province and the high incidence of flesh-eating disease there.

The herbicide is widely used on Thailand's farms but has banned in 53 countries around the world.

On 23 May 2018, the Hazardous Substances Committee of Thailand decided not to ban paraquat but instead place restrictions on its use. It has given the Agriculture Department two months to introduce control measures.

Date: 12 June 2018

Source: The Nation


Image credits

  1. A farm worker in Thailand sprays a rice field - eltpics, Flickr CC; http://bit.ly/2KhKkHL