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Experts warn against rampant use of herbicides
The Saigon Times Daily
Monday,  Sep 3, 2018,15:48 (GMT+7)

Experts warn against rampant use of herbicides

The Saigon Times Daily

Farmers work at a vegetable garden in Binh Chanh District. In recent years, the volume of herbicides used in the agriculture sector has trended upward - PHOTO: THANH HOA

HCMC – The General Council of Agriculture and Rural Development held a conference on August 28 to discuss the overuse and misuse of herbicides, as well as its consequences for public health and the environment, reported Lao Dong news website.

According to the council, the list of herbicides contains 234 active chemicals and some 714 brands. In recent years, the volume of used herbicides has trended upward, which has changed the governance mechanism and regulations on the efficient and safe use of herbicides.

Herbicide abuse and its negative impact was the primary area of discussion at the conference.

Nguyen Van Hung, senior expert at the Government Office, said that in addition to the benefits for crops, herbicides have had a devastating influence over the past 20 years.

Addressing the conference, former head of the Plant Protection Department, Nguyen Xuan Hong, highlighted that the main challenges are decentralized herbicide manufacturing and rampant use by farmers. He stressed that farmers failed to understand the purpose and negative effects of using herbicides and were heavily dependent on agrochemicals. Moreover, stores selling herbicides have mushroomed, while business conditions have yet to become stringent, making it difficult to control the sale and purchase of herbicides, Hong remarked.

Nguyen Van Tuat, associate professor at the Vietnam Academy of Agriculture and Science, said that the local people are worried about the damaging health impacts of herbicide use and are also aware of its harmful effects on the environment. As a result, the older varieties of herbicides are gradually being replaced with new chemicals, while the demand for herbicides is reportedly dropping.

Tuat suggested using herbicides only when necessary and choosing the right herbicides with a clear origin and expiry date, adding that farmers should speed up switching to herbicides made from herbs and weeds to protect the environment.

Hung voiced concern over the rising cases of food poisoning caused by herbicides in the last five years, with 20-40 cases per year on average. In 2017, the number of these cases increased significantly.

According to Hung, it is necessary to ban herbicides containing paraquat and other plant-protection substances that are not on the permitted list.

To control the use of herbicides, he proposed the relevant agencies and departments of the agriculture sector prepare urgent plans to reduce the use of herbicides and ensure its safe use, while improving farmers’ awareness on the issue.

The expert stressed that it is essential to restrict the number of active chemicals, the number of names of an active chemical and new registration of herbicide products, as well as herbicide imports.

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