DAVAO CITY- Ninety-five (95) local and international civil society organizations (CSOs) and institutions have petitioned the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority (FPA) to ban aerial spraying in banana plantations in the Philippines.
In a position paper drafted by the lead CSO, the Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) , the group highlighted the dangers of using aerial spraying as a method to apply fungicide because it contaminates nearby communities and water resources indiscriminately.
“In the communities adjacent or inside banana plantations, incidents of animals and plants dying due to hazardous chemical exposure have been reported. This is because the chemicals used in aerial spraying, when released, are airborne and spread randomly, reaching areas which do not even have banana crops! These aerial drifts are also easily affected by wind speed, terrain plane size, wing span, nozzle orientation, nozzle type, droplet size and swath and spray volume.”
“..The majority of these chemicals/pesticides used in aerial spraying are dermal sensitizers. The Department of Health (DOH) has already commented that even in low dosages, dermal sensitizers can still cause allergic reactions. This is why it is imperative that an aerial spraying ban be imposed because the pesticide drift indiscriminately affects those who are living in and near these banana plantations.”
The signatories to the position paper include the Ecowaste Coalition, the Ateneo Public Interest and Legal Advocacy Center, Ban Toxics, Gabriela Women’s Party, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Social Action Center- Diocese of Marbel, OND HESED Foundation and the Pesticide Action Network.
From Davao City, the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS), PAKISAMA, PANALIPAN-Southern Mindanao, the Integrated Primary Health Care-Davao Medical School Foundation (IPHC) , SIMCARRD, the University of Mindanao Legal Advocacy Network (ULAN) and the Watershed Management Youth Council (WMYC) also signed the position paper.
The group also urged the FPA to conduct strict regulation on pesticide use by designating additional personnel to monitor the environmental fate of pesticides and fertilizers used in banana plantations.
“Additionally, we urge them to implement grassroots capacity building activities to empower agricultural communities to undertake pesticide monitoring activities in coordination with local government agencies.”
The CSO position paper is the latest development in the nine-year national campaign to ban aerial spraying in the Philippines. Last February 27, 2015, the campaign gained momentum when the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Dr. Hilal Elver urged the Philippine government to focus on the issue of aerial spraying as “a matter of urgent priority” in her end-of-mission report.
IDIS has already submitted the position paper to the FPA where it will be reviewed by its Pesticide Policy Technical Advisory Committee (PPTAC) before coming up with a policy to address the concerns on aerial spraying.
It will also be submitted as a support document for review by the Congressional Committee on Ecology when it convenes in May to discuss the proposed Ban Aerial Spraying bills in Congress.
“In the interests of environmental justice, we call on the FPA and other government agencies to heed this position paper. Aerial spraying should be stopped now!”, said IDIS Executive Director Ann Fuertes. (#)