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COA pushes for ban on toxic herbicide ahead of schedule
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Minister Lin Tsung-hsien(Photo Courtesy of CNA)
Taipei, May 13 (CNA) Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Lin Tsung-hsien said on Saturday that a ban on the use of paraquat, a highly toxic herbicide, could be implemented in July ahead of schedule as the council steps up efforts to promote environmentally- friendly agriculture.

The ban was originally slated for 2019, but Lin said the council is eyeing earlier implementation as the herbicide, which is toxic to human beings and animals, is a threat to the environment.

The weedkiller should be removed from the shelves as there are less toxic replacements and even natural ways to control unwanted plants, such as blocking their access to light, Lin said.

Lin said the council will also introduce complementary measures, such as encouraging the public to buy agriculture produce that are certificated, traceable and organic so that farmers do not have to adopt low-cost business models traditionally linked with heavy chemical use.

The move is part of the council's attempt to encourage agricultural practices that are more environmentally-friendly, Lin said, adding that two related agriculture acts will be sent to the Legislature for review.

One of the acts is about establishing a "plant doctor" system so that qualified "doctors" can help supervise the use of pesticides and plant disease control, while the other will promote organic farming, according to Lin.