Prior to 2018, pesticide poisoning was responsible for 12% of all suicides in Taiwan. In February 2018, Taiwan introduced a first stage ban on paraquat – a highly toxic pesticide that is lethal when ingested – restricting its import and production. This was followed by a complete ban in February 2020.
Since the initial ban was brought in, there have been calls to lift the regulation, with claims that it would have no effect on suicide. An evaluation of the ban’s impact on suicide is therefore essential.
CPSP collaborated with the National Taiwan University in Taipei to explore the impact of Taiwan’s paraquat bans on suicide rates.
A study into the early impact of the 2018 paraquat ban, restricting import and production, has shown that it has led to a fall in pesticide suicides.
Researchers have examined data on suicide rates, identifying deaths from pesticide ingestion and, more specifically, from ingesting paraquat. They found that the ban was followed by a 37% reduction in pesticide suicides in 2019, mainly due to a 58% reduction in paraquat suicides. The researchers also found no obvious changes in crop yield, suggesting that agriculture and food production have not been impacted by the ban.
This initial study examined the short-term effect of the 2018 ban. However, it was still legal to sell and use paraquat in 2019, before its complete ban in February 2020. Our partners in Taiwan are now conducting further research to understand the long-term impact of the full ban.
This research was led by Professor Shu-Sen Chang at the National Taiwan University in Taipei