Sun, May 14, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Paraquat ban might start in July

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

In a bid to promote eco-friendly agriculture, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) on Friday announced that the herbicide paraquat — the common name for N,N’-dimethyl-4,4’-bipyridinium dichloride — is to soon be banned, perhaps as early as July.

Paraquat is strictly regulated by the COA because of its fatal toxicity.

According to the council, there is no antidote to the poison if people consume it by accident.

The announcement to ban paraquat in agricultural use by July comes two years earlier than the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine’s initial plan to ban it in 2019.

When asked how the bureau would respond to the change of schedule, bureau Deputy Director-General Feng Hai-tung (馮海東) said yesterday that the bureau is mapping out related regulations and would hold forums to explain the measure to the public.

“Our first step will be to communicate with people and businesses that use the herbicide,” he added.

Feng said about 2,500 tonnes of paraquat are used on farmland annually, and the herbicide is applied at least once per year on about 800,000 hectares of land.

Paraquat is allowed to be used repeatedly on the same land after a fallow period and is often used by farmers who grow rice, oranges, tangerines and sugar cane, he said.

However, beekeepers are complaining about a high incidence of bee colony deaths in recent years, leading to poor honey harvests, and they hold litchi and longan fruit farmers responsible because of their wide use of pesticides, Feng said.

Feng attributed these problems to climate change and extreme weather rather than pesticide use, saying the bureau will hold an expert forum on Thursday to discuss strategies to prevent bees being poisoned by pesticides.

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