Online petition to ban deadly chemical gathers momentum

By Talaia Mika 18 July 2020, 10:00AM

The Animal Protection Society (A.P.S) has continued the push to ban paraquat from Samoa with an online petition. 

Paraquat is a toxic chemical that is widely used as an herbicide (plant killer), primarily for weed and grass control. It is banned from many countries but it is still being used in Samoa.

At the A.P.S., the Society has lost count of the number of dogs and cats that have been poisoned deliberately or unknowingly using the chemical.

So in a desperate move, they have addressed their online petition to the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Tilafono David Hunter, to get the ball rolling on banning paraquat.

The Society argues that the toxic chemical can be easily accessible and is a threat to all health. They say that it is dangerous, causes cancer, causes incurable brain diseases and it severely harms the environment.

As of yesterday afternoon, the petition had received 393 signatures.

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

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

One of those who supported and signed the online petition stated her reasons.

“I hope that this horrible, unnecessary chemical can be banned from Samoa. It has a terrible impact on animals, humans and the environment,” Jeanne Schoenberger tweeted.

On social media, an animal lover shared her sad story with losing her dog to paraquat poisoning.

Lisha Sablan believes the sale of this poisoning chemical should be banned.

“This has happened too many times in the past as well," she wrote. "He is our 5th dog to succumb to this poisoning in the last 2 days.

“There is no antidote for Paraquat poisoning. Ingested by any living being there is no coming back and the suffering experienced is immeasurable.

“This poison is banned in many countries but not in Samoa. why ? We should be keeping our people , health , beloved pets and environment safe.”

But the danger does not only lie within the vicinity of animals. 

In Samoa, 70 percent of all suicide cases from the 90s to the early 20s all blamed paraquat for being used as a suicide agent as stated in stats by PAN Germany.

 It also stated that among the agrochemicals, paraquat was the most commonly one used in nearly 50% of the cases.

In early May this year, a clinic manager at A.P.S, Dr. Harriet Thornton, confirmed that an alarming increase in the number of dogs being poisoned by paraquat was driving calls for the chemical to be banned.

From typical levels of between one to four cases a month, Dr. Thornton confirmed that the recent number of animal poisoning cases had spiked to 30 cases in three weeks, which she said was highly unusual.

The toxic chemical is already banned from some other countries and not Samoa.

According to A.P.S, the ease of access for Samoa with little to no education about the risks, is unsafe, uncontrolled and it is used frequently in every garden to control weeds. 

”Domestic animals are also often poisoned and subsequently die by drinking from puddles contaminated with paraquat, days after it has been used,” A.P.S stated online.

“Help us to have this toxic chemical banned from the island paradise of Samoa.  Help us to save lives.”

By Talaia Mika 18 July 2020, 10:00AM

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