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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid