What should be done to prevent the harmful use of chemicals?

It seems that many farmers and business operators aren’t fully aware of the harm that can be caused by the chemicals they use. Although chemicals are potentially dangerous to humans and animals, their use on crops is widespread because they speed up growth. Sometimes they leak into rivers, killing fish and other aquatic life, while local people complain of bad smells. All too often these complaints receive no response from anyone in authority. Vientiane Times asked members of the public for their thoughts on this disturbing occurrence.

Mr Khamsouk, a resident of Vientiane: I know that fluctuating weather patterns have brought more pests and plant diseases which damage crops, so farmers use chemicals to protect their plants. And because the supply of produce does not meet demand, farmers want to get their crops to market as quickly as possible, so they use chemicals to speed up their growth. But the use of chemicals not only means that residues are left on plants or leak into rivers and canals - it also affects farmers’ health. Some farmers still don’t understand how to apply chemicals properly or how to protect themselves when using them. Farmers should be given more information about the proper way to use pesticides and fertiliser, as well as consider their personal safety, and the authorities should play a greater part in all of this.

Mr Hatsadong, an official in Vientiane province: I know that many harmful chemicals are sold and used in Laos. I think the authorities should have stronger measures to monitor people who import or sell illegal chemicals in Laos. It’s dangerous for humans and animals if they’re not used correctly. All farmers should be aware of food safety and the rights of consumers, not just think of the profit they can make. I think we should encourage more people to farm organically. I know it costs more and crops take longer to grow, but this method produces crops that have a higher sale value and are of better quality, which benefits both farmers and consumers. We should reduce the use of harmful chemicals to protect humans, animals, and the environment.

Mr Phoutthasone, an employee in Sikhottabong district: I think this is a difficult problem because shoppers always want to buy nice-looking and large fruit and vegetables. Some commercial farmers say that if they don’t use chemicals, consumers aren’t interested in their produce. But some of these chemicals should not be on sale. I know the authorities are trying to tackle this problem but it’s still continuing. Everyone should cooperate with the authorities. Businesses should stop illegally importing dangerous chemicals, farmers should decrease their use of chemicals, and authorities should punish both farmers and businesses that break the law.    

Ms Vongmany, an official in Xaythany district: I have heard the news about harmful chemicals that are used on farms, including banana plantations, and leak into rivers where they kill fish. And of course this can be dangerous for humans who live in the area. Commercial growers should be attentive at every stage of the farming process. It’s also the responsibility of the authorities to closely monitor the use of chemicals by farmers. The related authorities should pay more attention to feasibility studies and environmental issues before permitting a company to begin a project. 
Ms Bangon, a student in Naxaithong district: I’m always hearing about officials finding chemical residues on vegetables, as well as chemical leaks that harm the environment, humans and animals. Although the authorities say they are monitoring this issue, such incidents continue to occur. All farmers should consider the safety of the environment rather than their personal gain. I also think the authorities should strictly regulate the use of chemicals in farming, to ensure the safety of all forms of life.  

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update January 10, 2019)

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