Group wants more details on paraquat ban

PETALING JAYA: Healthcare professionals are calling for more details of the total ban on the herbicide paraquat, which starts on Jan 1 next year.

Some 31 medical associations, including the College of Physicians from the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (CPAMM), said while they welcome the ban, they are asking for more details as the starting date of the ban looms closer.

Important details, they said, must be disclosed such as the enforcement mechanism of the ban, and what will happen to the existing paraquat in the market.

“There is also insufficient dissemination of detailed information in the media of alternatives to paraquat to contain unwanted vegetation, ” they said in a statement.

They said there may be some parties who want to reverse the ban of the substance which can lead to a number of adverse health effects.

“While (the ban) is good news to us, the healthcare professionals, there would always be other stakeholders who would lobby to reverse the ban, ” they said.

CPAMM cited a study which showed that there was a significant increase in the number of calls to the National Poison Centre on paraquat poisoning after the ban was lifted.

“Proponents for the use of paraquat argue that the impact on humans was minimal, (however) we the doctors in Malaysia feel there is significant suffering and death due to paraquat, ” they said.

CPAMM president Dr Letchuman Ramanathan said those exposed to paraquat risk damage to lungs and kidneys, and the substance can also cause irritation to the skin.

“However paraquat may be cheap and effective, but its use is deadly to humans, ” he said.

Most cases of paraquat poisoning involve those who have taken it during attempts at suicide.

Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub proposed alternatives such as glyphosate and glufosinate-ammonium.

Countries that have banned paraquat include Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and those in the European Union.

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