Nationwide ban on herbicide gramoxone sought

Northern Dispatch

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Benguet officials resolved to petition the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) to ban the herbicide gramoxone (paraquat) in the Philippines following reports of increasing cases of poisoning in the province.

During the provincial peace and order council meeting October 3, Benguet Governor Nestor B. Fongwan, local officials and heads of government agencies agreed to ask FPA to explain why it lifted the ban on gramoxone. FPA classified the herbicide under restricted substances.

Gramoxone is the trade name of an herbicide containing 20 percent Paraquat (the trade name for N,N?-dimethyl-4,4?-bipyridinium dichloride) that has been banned in many countries including Malaysia, South Korea, Argentina and European countries. It is quick-acting and non-selective plant tissue killer that poses serious threat to human life.

Fongwan said gramoxone remains banned in the Cordillera despite FPA’s decision. He, however, said Benguet farmers buy gramoxone in adjacent provinces like Nueva Vizcaya.

Kibungan Mayor Benito Siadto said most farmers prefer gramoxone as it kills weeds faster. He said the weeds die within one week after spraying the said herbicide while other brands would take longer.

Dr. Norma Pacalso of the Benguet Provincial Health Office said there is an increase in monitored cases of poisoning in the province. She said from 39 cases in 2011, it rose to 48 in 2012. This year, 21 cases have already been recorded. Pacalso said gramoxone is the leading substance that figured in the poisoning cases. Northern Dispatch

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