Roundup, a widely popular herbicide containing glyphosate. Photo: iStock.

Vietnamese authorities have banned herbicides containing glyphosate after it was discovered that the substance causes cancer.

On April 10, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Vietnam announced that its decision would take effect 60 days after senior officials sign off on the move, VN Express reported. Glyphosate-based herbicides will be banned from being produced or imported into Vietnam.

Hoang Trung, head of the Plant Protection Department, said products with glyphosate that are still in the market could still be allowed to be used or sold up to one year from the day the regulation takes effect. After that period, glyphosate-based substances will be collected and destroyed.

Glyphosate is one of the most used ingredients in herbicides and weed killers. More than 100 brands in Vietnam use the substance, and an estimated 5 million liters of glyphosate are still circulating in the market.

The decision to ban the substance was a ripple effect caused by a Federal Court decision in San Francisco in the US last month, which ruled that found Monsanto group’s weed killer Roundup causes cancer. The ruling was a unanimous jury verdict.

A study conducted by the University of Washington last month discovered that exposure to glyphosate raised the cancer risk of those being exposed to it by 41%. Other studies also found out that the substance has a substantial chance of causing lung, prostate and blood cancer as well.

Thai ‘ban in 2021’

The decision in Vietnam will put pressure on other governments in Asia to follow suit.

There have been repeated calls in Thailand in recent years – from health officials, the National Human Rights Commission, Ombudsman’s Office and media outlets – to ban glyphosate, plus paraquat and chlorpyrifos.

However, an Industry Ministry committee made a surprising decision in February, saying it would adhere to an earlier decision by Agriculture officials to limit use of the chemicals, while a total ban on the herbicides and pesticide would be made in two years.

The deputy permanent secretary for Industry, Apichin Jotikashira, who chaired the Hazardous Substance Committee meeting, said they acknowledged the dangers to the environment and public health from the use of paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos – and agreed that Thailand should eventually ban them all, The Nation reported.

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