Petition to ban paraquat garners support

The Animal Protection Society has taken their stance over paraquat a step further with an online petition launched this week, calling for the pesticide ingredient to be banned in Samoa.

In May, A.P.S. told the Samoa Observer that paraquat should be banned, and now hopes to take hundreds of signatures agreeing with them to the Government. 

Clinic Manager Dr. Harriet Thornton said the small clinic is treating more than 30 cases of paraquat poisonings a month, which she says is a large spike from what they typically used to get earlier this year. 

As well as dogs, people have been known to die of paraquat poisoning, some of which have been suicides.

“It causes fatal poisoning in humans and just the presence of it in the environment damages our environment, soil, waterways and fish life. If children are exposed to it, it might cause developmental problems in children, infertility and neurological development issues,” she said.

So far 59 people have signed the petition, which A.P.S. hopes to present to the head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Tilafono David Hunter.

When asked about whether he would support a ban, Tilafono told the Samoa Observer he had yet to receive any formal complaint about paraquat’s deadly effects.

“We all know that some of us have lost our dogs via the deliberate and inhumane poisoning by some people using some chemical. It may be paraquat or something else," the Chief Executive Officer said in May.

“If there is evidence to support that some users are abusing it, then please inform us so that we investigate such inhumane cases, and revoke their user licenses.”

Paraquat, also known as Agriquat, is used for weed control. It is banned in 60 countries including the entire European Union. 

In 2019, researchers from the National Taiwan University and the University of Bristol reported that a ban on the substance would prevent 200 deaths from suicide a year in Taiwan.

Similarly motivated bans saw dramatic falls in pesticide-related suicides. South Korea’s suicide by pesticide rates fell 37 per cent in the year after paraquat was banned (against the predicted figures), and in Sri Lanka rates fell by 50 per cent in the five years following their ban.

“In Samoa, with little to no education about the risks, its use is unsafe, uncontrolled and everybody has access to it,” A.P.S. writes in their petition.

“By providing Samoa with the many safer alternatives available, lives will be saved, disease will be prevented and the environment helped.

“Once paraquat is banned, Samoan agricultural suppliers will be forced to seek out and provide safer alternatives of which there is an abundance."

* This story has been amended to correct paraquat's chemical classification.   



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