USA protests against Thailand’s crop chemicals ban

The USA has asked Thailand to postpone its forthcoming ban on the weedkiller, glyphosate, saying it could impact its exports of soyabeans and other crops to the country.

On 22 October, Thailand’s National Hazardous Substances Committee voted to ban the use of glyphosate, chlorpyrifos and paraquat, which are found in pesticides or insecticides, Reuters wrote.

The ban, taking effect on 1 December, would see the chemicals elevated to Type 4 on Thailand’s Hazardous Substance Act, banning production, import, export, transfer or possession of the listed chemicals.

US Department of Agriculture (USDA) undersecretary Ted McKinney asked Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha in a letter to “postpone action on glyphosate”.

“Should a ban be implemented, it would severely impact Thailand’s imports of agricultural commodities such as soyabeans and wheat,” McKinney said. in his letter.

The USA exported US$593M worth of soyabeans and US$180M of wheat to Thailand in 2018, according to the USDA.

McKinney said glyphosate posed no meaningful risk to human health when used as authorised, citing a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2017 report.

However, there are more than 42,700 plaintiffs suing German chemical firm Bayer in the USA, alleging that its Roundup glyphosate-based weedkiller causes cancer.

The World Health Organization’s cancer research arm also said in 2015 that the chemical was “probably carcinogenic to humans”. and was also the target of thousands of lawsuits in the USA, alleging that exposure to it causes cancer.

Meanwhile, Thai farmer groups have complained about the lack of inexpensive alternatives to the chemicals to be banned and said they would appeal the ban in court, Reuters said.