Sale of paraquat illegal from January

PETALING JAYA: From January, the presence of paraquat poisons in the local market will be deemed an offence under the Pesticides Act 1974.

The Pesticides Board had banned the import of the toxic fast-acting herbicide from Jan 1 this year, paving the way for the next course of action.

Glyphosate and glufosinate-ammonium have been proposed as alternative poisons to paraquat, which is primarily used for weed and grass control.

At present, paraquat use is limited to only four types of plants – immature oil palm trees, rubber trees, hill padi fields and pineapple stumps.

The impending total ban on paraquat will enable the government to achieve its objective of promoting good agricultural practice and, at the same time, reduce the cost of pesticide usage.

Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Sim Tze Tzin, who disclosed this to The Star, said the frequency of repeat spraying of these alternative poisons was estimated to be less than paraquat.

“This will also be good agricultural practice as it reduces the cost of using weed pesticides on a whole, ” he said.

Sim said registrants were allowed a period of one year to use up their paraquat storage and stock, be it in the form of technical material or formulated product.

He said if paraquat was found to be still available in the market beyond Jan 1, legal action would be taken against offenders

pursuant to the Pesticide Act 1974, Section 20(3).

“It provides that any party who sells or stores for the purpose of sale any pesticide that is not registered with the Pesticides Board can be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three years or fined a sum of RM10,000, or both, for first-time offenders, with more severe penalties for repeat offenders, ” he added.

He said glyphosate is a type of weed pesticide that had been used for at least 40 years in the country in the plantation and small farming sectors.

Due to its wide usage globally, Sim said there was much reference material and research conducted on this pesticide, adding that the short-term toxicity of glyphosate was low compared to paraquat.

“However, there is research linking glyphosate with long-term effects such as cancer, ” he said.

Thailand is fully banning paraquat and glyphosate, with enforcement set to start this Dec 1.

In Malaysia, although the Pesticides Board still allowed the usage of glyphosate as a weed control, Sim said it would continue to monitor and keep abreast with latest issues on the chemical.

He said the Board encouraged the registration of new pesticides which posed a lesser risk.

Sim said the Pesticides Board had made the decision to ban the use of paraquat during a meeting on Oct 28,2013.

In the 81st Pesticides Board meeting held on Nov 15,2016, it was agreed that quotas be imposed with effect from 2017 and 2018 to limit the import of paraquat.

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