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Tighter control on transnational food industry required to solve haze problem: expert

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Tighter control on transnational food industry required to solve haze problem: expert

By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM 
THE NATION

 

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Photo courtesy of Greenpeace

 

A STRONGER political will is required to take action against monoculture corn cultivation both inside Thailand and in neighbouring countries, or the transboundary haze problem will never be solved, environmental experts said, as Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district continues to choke under hazardous smog.
 

Greenpeace said the month-long hazardous air pollution in Mae Sai should serve as a wake-up call for the authorities and policymakers in the Mekong sub-region, and they should take the problem seriously and work together to solve it. Tighter regulations are required to stop the transnational food industry from expanding unsustainable monoculture corn farming, Greenpeace said, adding that the supply chain of the food industry should be given more sustainable sources. 

 

According to the Pollution Control Department (PCD), the northernmost city of Mae Sai has been enveloped with extremely high levels of PM2.5 – or fine particulate matter that is less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter – for every single day in the past month. 

 

PCD said that the PM2.5 level has not for a single day been below 90 micrograms per cubic metre, adding that the 30-day average stood at 169mcg and the highest level of PM2.5 was 452mcg.

 

These PM2.5 levels are dangerously high, considering that the PM2.5 safe limit in Thailand is 50mcg, while that of the World Health Organisation is 25mcg. 

 

Tara Buakamsri, country director for Greenpeace Thailand, said the smog problem in the North, especially in Mae Sai, can be considered a public health emergency as PM2.5 in these areas has been beyond the safe level for a very long time. Hence, Tara said, it is time for the authorities to be serious about tackling this problem swiftly. 

 

He added that information at hand indicates that the prolonged smog in Mae Sai has more to do with transboundary pollution, because even though outdoor fires in Chiang Rai province have dropped in number, the air quality remains hazardous, as fine dust continues drifting across the border from neighbouring countries. 

 

A hotspot image from globalforestwatch.org confirmed this notion, as it showed that Mae Sai district was surrounded from all directions by dense hotspots in Myanmar, Laos and neighbouring provinces, Tara said. “The smog crisis in Mae Sai vividly reflects our government’s failure to effectively implement the Asean Transboundary Haze-Free Roadmap and collaborate with neighbouring countries in the Mekong sub-region to control |wildfires and outdoor burning,” he said. 

 

Many academics and experts, including Tara, believe that monoculture maize farming is one of the primary factors behind the seasonal smog in this part of the Mekong sub-region. 

 

Farmers in Thailand, Myanmar and Laos have been encroaching on forests to expand their farms for contracted corn farming, and they also use the slash-and-burn technique to get rid of scrub after the February to April harvesting season is over. 

 

A recent report by Prachachat Turakij newspaper said now that most of the arable land in Thailand was taken over by corn fields, the monoculture maize farming has spilled over to Myanmar and Laos through the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy.

 

The report added that corn production in Myanmar is expected to rise by 6 per cent this year due to higher demand from China and Thailand, with annual maize production expected to reach 1 million tonnes in Myanmar, up from the current capacity of 850,000 tonnes.

 

Hence, Tara said, the smog problem in the North is very complex as it involves international politics and trade, and is also related to many influential players in the transnational food industry. That’s why, he said, the government needs to have a strong political will to efficiently handle this gigantic problem. 

 

“We can learn from Singapore, which has effectively solved the transboundary haze by enforcing the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act to deal with problematic practices by transnational companies that encourage the burning of forests and peatland in Indonesia to expand monoculture palm farming,” he said.

 

“Nevertheless, we have strong academic and public sectors that are ready to cooperate with the authorities to sustainably tackle the smog problem.

 

However, I don’t think Thailand has as strong a political will as Singapore to effectively tackle the transboundary haze problem at its root by enforcing tighter regulations on the entire food industry production chain.”

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30367797

 

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-- © Copyright The Nation 2019-04-17

 

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3 hours ago, webfact said:

A STRONGER political will is required to take action against monoculture corn cultivation both inside Thailand and in neighbouring countries, or the transboundary haze problem will never be solved, environmental experts said,

wont happen in my lifetime; pure pipedream that any one of those countries will handle this; accept there is and will always be a 'smog season'; those of us that live up here in the world's worst air will be elsewhere next smog season

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Don't panic. Jai yen yen. Just give it a month or two and the problem will go away on its own. Nothing to worry about then until next year .This is the traditional and time honoured way of dealing with such things.

Next year is way beyond the horizon of those whose field of vision ends a few meters beyond their nose.

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8 hours ago, webfact said:

ence, Tara said, the smog problem in the North is very complex as it involves international politics and trade, and is also related to many influential players in the transnational food industry. That’s why, he said, the government needs to have a strong political will to efficiently handle this gigantic problem. 

Ah, so that is the reason this article, This newspaper, Mr Tara, and Greenpeace does not mention the "transnationals" responsible, or list major players in corn production and perhaps outline where & who it is sold to and what use it is put to.

 

GREAT !!     Why not send the info to Julian and bust a nut that way?!

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10 hours ago, webfact said:

A STRONGER political will is required to take action against monoculture corn cultivation both inside Thailand and in neighbouring countries, or the transboundary haze problem will never be solved, environmental experts said, as Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district continues to choke under hazardous smog.

Follow the money.  There is no 'political will' because Big Ag spreads the love (฿฿฿Cha-Ching฿฿฿) in order to make sure that there is no political will to hinder their money making operations. 

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Barbies are the ploblem, smokers too I bet.....🙄

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BTW.  Everyone is waiting for the rain.  Once it shows up, the entire nation suffers from amnesia and the problem is forgotten until the next burning cycle.  Then more pontificating and calls for action by the political class - who again are only waiting for the start of the Rain Season to wash the nasty burning and haze issues away for another year.   Wash, rinse, repeat annually ad-infinitum.

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Mae sai is 12 miles from here
And i can tell you its more than 1 month
More like 3 to 4 !


Sent from my iPad using Thaivisa Connect

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BTW.  Everyone is waiting for the rain.  Once it shows up, the entire nation suffers from amnesia and the problem is forgotten until the next burning cycle.  Then more pontificating and calls for action by the political class - who again are only waiting for the start of the Rain Season to wash the nasty burning and haze issues away for another year.   Wash, rinse, repeat annually ad-infinitum.

I have started mentioning to people
I wan the rain to arrive quick !


Sent from my iPad using Thailand Forum - Thaivisa mobile app

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If and when something is agreed, Thailand will be the last to get its act together, but will still blame others. 

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3 hours ago, Tropposurfer said:

Right on🙏😊’ leave the leaf and stem material on the ground after cutting it up.

monoculture is terribly damaging to the ecosystems, despite the benefits touted.

crop diversity and rotation is proven to support healthier soils and higher yields.

The waste vegetable material helps reduce run of during rains, and soil migration, and supplies slow nutrient return through composting.

encourages microbial and worm activity. 

the phosphorous from the ash is only a small nutrient boost to the next seasons planting anyways!

iirc the corn stem material in Europe is fed to the livestock in the winter...it's all piled up on the farmers land, covered with a tarp and used in the winter to feed the cows.

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Revert to the glory days of the golden triangle, now that MJ cultivation is increasing in popularity and becoming a viable agricultural industry.... fixed.... next

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, farcanell said:

Revert to the glory days of the golden triangle, now that MJ cultivation is increasing in popularity and becoming a viable agricultural industry.... fixed.... next

Correct and in the meantime: burn all the mindless farmers who burn, make a TV show out of it and broadcast it on national television to educate instead of lobotomize the nation. Then import the necessary food.

 

And Singapore BTW cannot be compared to Thailand, as it has a proper education system where children actually learn something - instead of growing up to become Thairung idiots who drink and drive and father young women, who then become bar girls to support their child...

Edited by Dek Somboon

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