Note: This text was written in Thailand in 2003, so some of the below information is now out of date.
Actually, the Thai Government has already banned a lot of pesticides. Since 1977 a total of 82 pesticides have been banned because they are a danger to human health. The latest chemical to be banned was Methamidophos, in April 2003.
Unfortunately, some of the banned chemicals are still being used, either because old stocks are available, or because the chemicals are illegally imported from neighbouring countries. The use of Monocrotophos, which was banned in May 2000, is still widespread among Thai farmers.
In addition to banning certain chemicals, the Government has created a ‘watch list’. The 12 chemicals on this list are know to be harmful to human health, but an official decision to get rid of them has not yet been made. Anybody who is concerned about the dangers of pesticides should avoid buying, selling or using these chemicals.
It is worth noting that some chemicals on the Watch List, such as Aldicarb and Methyl Parathion, are more toxic than some of those that have already been banned, such as Methamidophos and Monocrotophos.
It is also important to realise that having a watch list of twelve very bad pesticides does not mean that other chemicals that are used in our country are safe. For example the herbicide Paraquat, which does not appear on the watch list, has a very bad reputation. But it is still being recommended by Thai Government officers to control weeds.
Pesticides on the ’Watch List’ in Thailand
|Common name||Chemical family||WHO class|
|Formetanate hydrochloride||Carbamates||Not listed|
“Paraquat can not be used safely, particularly not on plantations and small farms, and there is no antidote, which means that poisoning cannot be counteracted with medical treatment. People are dying while others are left seriously ill. The most severe health effects are found in developing countries where workers suffer from damage to lungs, skin, eyes, nose, fingernails and toenails. There are also concerns in the industrialised world and one can not disregard the environmental effects.”
Methyl parathion is unsafe for children at virtually any dose and must be banned for use immediately on all foods. This insecticide is a relic of an era when highly toxic chemistry was the objective, and when our knowledge of the health risks of pesticides in general, and neurotoxic compounds in particular, was minimal. Now we know that the brains and nervous systems of infants and children are extremely vulnerable to neurotoxic substances.
(Environmental Working Group).
“Endosulfan is a highly dangerous, outdated chemical, the safe use of which cannot be guaranteed by many poor countries where it is still used. Endosulfan is a persistent chemical that has been demonstrated to bioaccumulate in exposed organisms.”
(Environmental Justice Foundation)