A trade group representing pesticide firms urged Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha to delay a ban due Dec. 1 on three chemicals because of the potential disruption to the agriculture sector.
The move will be a shock for farmers growing crops such as rubber, rice, sugarcane and fruit because of a lack of alternatives, and the government should at least allow for a transition period, said Tan Siang Hee, executive director of Singapore-based CropLife Asia.
“The government should reconsider and think about the impact to the agricultural industry,” Tan said in a briefing in Bangkok on Wednesday, adding the repercussions would fan out from farming to other sectors of the economy.
Thailand plans to ban three pesticides next month over risks to health -- paraquat, chlorpyrifos and glyphosate
. The move against glyphosate, commonly sold as weedkiller Roundup, sparked resistance from the U.S., which in a letter asked Prayuth to delay to consider scientific evidence.
A ban would “severely impact” Thai imports of agricultural commodities such as soybeans and wheat, Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Ted McKinney wrote in the letter.
Millions of Farmers
Millions of farmers in the U.S. and elsewhere use Roundup, a chemical developed by American firm Monsanto and now produced by a number of companies. Germany’s Bayer AG took over Monsanto in a $63 billion deal last year.
Bayer is now facing a surge of U.S. lawsuits from people alleging that Roundup causes cancer. The German drugs and chemicals maker insists it’s safe. Glyphosate is banned or restricted in a range of places, such as Vietnam and Austria.
When asked in October about U.S. objections to Thailand’s ban, Deputy Agriculture Minister Mananya Thaiseth told reporters “we have to care about the demands of the Thai people.”
In a letter to Prayuth, CropLife Asia said the planned prohibition could increase weed control costs to more than 8.1 billion baht ($268 million) and lead to a loss of yield worth over 13.5 billion baht.
About 11 million of Thailand’s 69 million people are employed in agriculture. The nation is among the world’s top exporters of rice, rubber and sugar.
The glyphosate dispute flared up around the time the U.S. said it planned to suspend $1.3 billion in trade preferences for Thailand over workers’ rights.
The dual spats signaled a potential cooling in bilateral ties, though U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross subsequently said the trade preferences issue had been blown out of proportion.
CropLife Asia on its website says it advocates for the Asia-Pacific plant science industry. A page entitled “Member Companies” lists BASF, Bayer CropScience, Corteva AgriScience, FMC, Sumitomo Chemical and Syngenta.