Polluted fruit leads Thailand to winnow pesticide use

By Mark Rowe

September 17, 2003, just-food.com: In Thailand villagers living near tangerine orchards have experienced bouts of dizziness, rashes and breathing difficulties. The mysterious symptoms are believed to be caused by toxic chemical fumes and pesticide run-off in ground water.

In response to the complaints and new evidence that shows high levels of chemical residues in the fruit, the Thai government has introduced rules to reduce the use of pesticides and other chemicals.

The new measures are being implemented on the direct orders of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and cover 13 pesticides on a so-called watch list of dangerous chemicals, as well as paraquat, which is known to be toxic and banned in a number of European countries, and carbofuran, which is widely used by rice farmers.

While 82 pesticides have been banned in Thailand since 1977, some 300 pesticides are still permitted, 200 more than in many countries.