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Thailand Proposes Farm Chemical Safety Measures
(Beyond Pesticides, November 18, 2003) A new proposal in Thailand arose in order to protect the environment and public health from chemicals used at local tangerine farms, according to the Bangkok Post. The plan, created by Thailand's Pollution Control Department, would create buffer zones around tangerine farms to keep hazardous pesticides from reaching residential areas and water sources. The proposal was raised for discussion November 14 at a meeting of authorities in the Muang district.

Under the department's proposal, buffer zones between tangerine farms and community areas would be 500 meters wide, while that between the farms and water sources would be 100 meters wide, as reported by the Bangkok Post.

The plan comes as part of a larger effort in Thailand to reduce the environmental impact of tangerine farming. Tangerine farmers who own more than 500 rai of plantation are required to have a wastewater detention pond. Those who have at least 100 rai must hire at least one agricultural expert. Furthermore, tangerine farmers are required to report to authorities at least once a year and provide details of the chemicals they have been using on their farms. Presently, the Natural Resources Ministry is attempting to declare districts that are home to dense tangerine plantings as environmental protection zones.

In addition, the Natural Resources Ministry is considering a ban of two extremely hazardous pesticides used in the tangerine-farming sector: endosulfan and methamidophos. Both of these chemicals are highly acutely toxic and easily absorbed through several routes of exposure. Endosulfan has been linked with testicular cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and defects in male sex organs. Methamidophos is linked to adverse reproductive effects, as observed when reduced sperm count and sperm viability were seen in men who were exposed to the product Tamaron in China. Additionally, a two-generation feeding study in rats showed a decrease in the percentage of females delivering offspring at all dose levels of methamidophos.

Apprehension was provoked in Thailand when the Public Health Ministry detected both of these chemicals in the blood of residents living in the vicinity of tangerine orchards. These pesticides were also found in soil and water samples taken by the Pollution Control Department.

''Use of such chemicals can cause serious environmental damage to their communities. It's their responsibility to use environment-friendly substances,'' stated Dr Ampaiwan Paradornnuwat, of Kasetsart University.