MANILA, Philippines – Various civil society groups on Tuesday called on Congress to pass the long delayed bill banning aerial pesticide spraying in banana plantations nationwide.
The groups, including Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS), said that the controversial agricultural method brings more harm than good to local communities and the environment.
“Beyond its supposed economic benefits, aerial spraying is a daily menace to our communities and to the environment,” MAAS President Dagohoy Magaway said.
Magaway arrived in Manila on Tuesday to attend the Congressional Committee on Ecology hearing on the proposed bill.
“The pesticide drift coming out of the spray planes contaminates our drinking wells and leaves residues on our vegetable gardens and poisons even our domestic animals. It even drenches our children on their way to school. How can anyone in their right minds think that aerial spraying is good for the community?,” he said.
Last February, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food also noted the urgency of the issue, calling on the Philippine government to address the problem because of its risks to public health.
Aerial spraying is preferred by banana plantations because it is a cheap and easy way of administering the fungicide which targets the sigatoka fungus. Banning aerial spraying, industry supporters contend, would cripple the industry.
However, in 2011, the National Task Force Against Aerial Spraying member organization, Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) commissioned an economic study assessing the financial impact of banana plantations shifting from aerial to ground spraying.
“The results showed that even with the ban and the proposed shift to ground spray, the industry can survive the change. Admittedly, there will be a small decrease in potential net returns because of the initial capital requirements needed to make the shift, but over-all, its net returns will still be positive,” IDIS Executive Director Ann Fuertes said.
Several local and international civil society organizations, including Greenpeace Philippines, also signed a position paper, addressed to the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority last April 2015, echoing the call for the banning of aerial spraying. (Dennis Carcamo, philstar.com)