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Law targets toxic chemicals

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A man moves bags of fertiliser at a shop in Phnom Penh last month. New laws may be introduced to regulate agricultural chemicals.

A draft law to improve agricultural farming practices by diminishing the use of harmful pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers was approved by the Council of Ministers late last week and will be submitted to the National Assembly next month.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday the law was vital to bolster food security, reduce dangerous side effects from harmful agricultural chemicals and raise Cambodian living standards.

“I am still unclear as to when [exactly] this draft law will be sent to the National Assembly but I strongly believe it will be transferred as soon as possible, based on time and administrative procedures,” he said, adding this would happen by next month at the latest.

The law has received strong support from farmers and agricultural civil society organisations that have welcomed regulation of chemicals that can harm both those using them and consumers.

Yin Sobuuna, deputy director of the Neary Khmer Association for Health and Vocational Training, which has trained about 20,000 Cambodian farmers how to use natural fertilisers and pesticides, said yesterday many people simply weren’t aware of the risks agricultural chemicals posed.

“The management of agriculture fertilisers and pesticides is very important while most consumers are still unclear with the risks [of using chemicals],” he said.

Ung Daro, marketing president of Bio-one Inc Co Ltd which supplies imported agri-chemicals, said the law would help farming companies which are registered with the ministries of commerce and agriculture and want to market healthy produce.

“This draft law is very crucial for both our company and Cambodian farmers who take care with health, environmental protection and want high income from their agriculture production,” he said.

“Currently, consumers and the users express strong support for agricultural products that are grown using natural fertilisers”.

He said brokers had been dumping agricultural chemicals that had passed their expiry date on the Cambodian market, a practice that would be curbed by the legislation. Many unlicensed companies were selling such expired chemicals from countries such as Germany and Japan that had no label and no use -by-date on them, he said.

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