By: APIRADEE TREERUTKUARKUL
Published: 14/02/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News
The announcement listing 13 Thai herbs as hazardous substances should be revoked rather than revised because of a lack of transparency, proper governance and public confusion, a public forum concluded on Friday.
The forum, attended by farmers, academic, consumer protection networks and representatives of the Public Health Ministry, the Department of Agriculture and the Industry Ministry, yesterday reached a consensus that the controversial announcement should be revoked.
The reason was because it was released too hastily and that the officials involved could not give clear answers to the public as to why it was being done, said Nara Nakwattananukul, director-general of the Department for Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine chairing the forum.
"The announcement affects the policy on sustainable agriculture, food safety and traditional medicine.
"Who's going to bring back confidence on the use of Thai herbs in cooking and making medicinal products?" he asked.
If you can't give a satisfactory answer to the public, maybe it's not the right time to list Thai herbs as hazardous substances, he said.
Dr Nara said he would also urge the health minister to discuss the matter with the industry and agriculture ministers and seek a resolution on the issue.
The announcement, which took effect on Feb 3, lists 13 plants as type 1 hazardous substances, as proposed by the department.
It requires producers and traders of pesticides made from the listed plants to register with the department and label the products as hazardous.
The 13 herbs and plants are neem, lemongrass, turmeric, ginger, Chinese ginger, African marigold, Siam weed or bitter bush, tea seed cake, chilli, Chinese celery, ringworn bush, glory lilly and stemona.
In the forum, a public health representative opposed the term "products" for controlling the use of listed herbs because it was not clearly defined in the announcement.
Vichai Chokewiwat, adviser to the department, said not only was the announcement illegitimate, but so were the committee's letters to officials asking them to acknowledge the resolution.
Such a procedure is in breach of the law on governance, which requires further meetings until a consensus could be achieved.
The Industry Ministry approved the announcement on Jan 29 and it came into effect on Feb 3.
"There are many ways to control the use of natural pesticides, but laws and regulations should be the last resort that the state should use," he said.