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Toxic pesticides rife in Kingdom, NGO reports

Toxic pesticides rife in Kingdom, NGO reports

A NEW report released by the Pesticide Action Network at a UN Environment Programme forum on the use of toxic chemicals has found that Cambodia and 10 other Asian countries are awash in highly hazardous pesticides.

Case studies conducted across Asia in farming areas that included Peam Chor district, Prey Veng province, showed that 66 percent of pesticides used in agriculture were highly hazardous, according to standards set by international bodies such as the World Health Organisation.

The report found that 90 percent of farmers in Prek Krabrau commune who sprayed their crops with pesticides routinely suffered from dizziness, 87 percent suffered from headaches, 70 percent experienced blurry vision and 52 percent reported hand tremors.

Cambodian law already prohibits the use of 116 chemical pesticides and restricts the use of another 40; however, the enforcement of these bans has been consistently undermined by the illegal importation of the chemicals, mainly from Vietnam.

Bella Whittle, the author of the report and a programme officer at the Pesticide Action Network, said better international coordination is needed to stem the flow of illegal chemicals.

“As I understand it, there has been pretty genuine attempts in many of the Asian countries to phase out class 1 acutely toxic pesticides; however, those pesticides are still being used in some countries illegally,” she said.

Hong Narit, cabinet chief at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said the report would help the public better understand that overuse of chemical pesticides harms farmers, consumers and the environment.

“The report is good for raising awareness in Cambodia, and now we are preparing legislation on the management of the chemicals as well,” he said.

The report was released Sunday, the first day of the 11th UN Environment Programme Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum in Bali, Indonesia.

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