News / Asia

Pesticides Threaten Thailand’s Reputation as Food Exporter

Pesticides Threaten Thailand’s Reputation as Food Exporter

x
Pesticides Threaten Thailand’s Reputation as Food Exporteri
|| 0:00:00
X
Steve Sandford
October 03, 2012 11:38 PM
Thailand has long been recognized as a leading exporter of rice and other agricultural produce. But tests for pesticide residues are raising concerns about whether the food is safe. Steve Sandford reports from Sanpatong, Thailand.

Pesticides Threaten Thailand’s Reputation as Food Exporter

Thailand has long been recognized as a leading exporter of rice and other agricultural produce. But tests for pesticide residues are raising concerns about whether the food is safe. 
 
Here, in the hills of Northern Thailand, farm workers like Inson face the constant pressure of producing optimum harvests for overseas clients.

Many farms rely on imported chemical pesticides and fertilizers to help meet demand. But, although the chemicals are readily available, many workers are not sure how to safely use them.
 
“The pesticide products come from abroad, so we just use them without knowing any information.  They're too easy for us to buy. I don’t know if the product has any negative side effects," said Thai farmer Inson Meung-Kaew. 
 
Thailand's quest to boost its harvests has led to a voracious appetite for agro-chemicals, tripling their use in the last decade. Their use now rivals neighboring countries like China and India, where the misuse of pesticides has been well documented.
 
Now, even inside Thailand there are worries about whether the chemicals are affecting food safety. 
 
Repeated warnings from the European Union, threatening to ban some Thai produce, resulted in a self-imposed halt of exports last year, with promises by the government to clean up the industry.
 
Many local watchdog groups are unconvinced that the consumer's best interests - both locally and abroad - are being addressed. 
 
Tests conducted in recent months showed alarming levels of toxic residue on market produce, including several cancer-causing chemicals that are banned in some countries. Gae Supab is the head of Bio Thai, which studies farming practices in Thailand.
 
“At the origin of this commodity we don't have proper control to limit the use right at the very beginning.  And then, when it comes to utilization we don't have a proper system to dealing with it, to train and educate people, to limit use in every appropriate way," he said. 
 
Meanwhile, Thailand's health department conducts blood tests in farming communities, to monitor the levels of organophosphates, an active ingredient commonly found in many pesticides.
 
The results leave many wondering about future health problems they might face, says Doctor Au Chamlong.
 
“Right now many farmers and consumers are at risk to get pesticides in their bodies.  Most of the farmers are using pesticides to spray on their crops. The consumers will ingest pesticides from eating vegetables and fruits from those farms," he said. 
 
As the government promotes Thailand as the 'kitchen of the world', critics say that a serious overhaul of regulations and restrictions needs to be enforced so that the reforms will be taken seriously - protecting both consumers and farm workers from the chemicals.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid