Pesticide Policy Technical Advisory Committee
Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority
The banana industry has become one of the country’s biggest economic contributors because of the huge demand for the crop in the global market. Not only is it a major contributor to our annual GDP growth, it has also provided livelihood to hundreds of Filipinos. Thus, it is in the interests of the country that the industry be given reasonable support. This support, however, should not be at the expense of its workers and the agricultural communities it depends on.
One of the pressing issues that the industry has been facing is the use of aerial spraying to apply pesticides which combat banana diseases. Many industries are using this method due to its practicability and cost-effectiveness. However, questions about its impact on human health and environment have stirred a public outcry among several groups to ban aerial spraying and shift to ground spraying. But banana plantations are adamant against shifting to ground spraying as it allegedly entails more costs on their part. The Interface Development Interventions (IDIS), Inc., an environmental non-government organization based in Davao City, says otherwise. In a commissioned study. A Financial Statement Study of Shifting from Aerial to Ground Spraying), IDIS found out that the banana industry can still survive with shifting to ground spraying , although it would impose some cost. Despite the additional expenses required in shifting to ground spraying and the lower profit income this would result towards large plantations, overall, there is still a positive potential net return. Ground spraying also benefits small banana growers as this would mean that they would no longer pay for expensive aerial spraying fees which are being charged by big plantations, resulting to an increase in the net income of small farmers.
Further, the call to ban aerial spraying is rooted in its negative effects to public health and the environment. Since aerial spraying became the de riguer pesticide application method in banana plantations, various skin diseases and other cases attributable to toxic chemical exposure have been reported. 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, swath and spray volume (Dr. Jim Wilson, Aerial Spraying as cited in Aerial Spray on Crops or Humans? Questioning the Legality of Agricultural Aerial Spraying by Nathaniel Oducado, 2014).
Lastly, 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. Further, pesticide use in agricultural plantations must be rigidly monitored to ensure that no violations are being committed.
Locally, Aerial Spraying has been successfully banned in other parts of Mindanao and yet, banana plantations in these areas continue to thrive. The Bukidnon Province has passed a provincial ordinance banning aerial spraying – Provincial Ordinance No. 2001-4R; similarly, North Cotabato has incorporated a ban aerial spraying provision in its Environmental Code. Overseas, France has recently announced an extensive ban on aerial spraying of pesticides throughout its territories. Also, the European Union has issued Directive 2009/128/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council Establishing a framework for Community action to achieve the Sustainable use of Pesticides.
Hence, we recommend that the Aerial Spraying Method in Banana Plantations and other Monocrop Agriculture be banned to prevent health problems and contamination of the environment. We also recommend that the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) designate additional personnel in every region to help monitor the environmental fate of pesticides and police the banana plantations’ use of pesticides and fertilizers. 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.
Ms. Mary Ann Fuertes
Interface Development Interventions (IDIS), Inc.
(Signing in behalf of the groups against Aerial Spraying)
With Support from the following Civil Society Organizations:
OND HESED Foundation, Inc.
Advocates for Environmental and Social Justice
Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao
Amabel Foundation – Davao City
Action for Nurturing Children and Environment
Ateneo Public Interest and Legal Advocacy Center
Assalam Bangsamoro People’s Association
Balingaeng Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association
Batangas 2 Fisherman Association
Biao Joaquin Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc.
Cavite Green Coalition
Consumer Rights for Safe Food
Cycle for Life
For the Upliftment of Moral, Economic, Technological, Socio-Spiritual Aspirations of Persons (METSA), Philippines
Gabriela Women’s Party
Gawasnong Pagbalay, Inc.
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Go Organic Davao City
Go Organic Mindanao
Health Care Without Harm – Southeast Asia
Hiraya Minokawa Davao
Integrated Primary Health Care – Davao Medical School Foundation
Interface Development Interventions-Davao City
Kababaehang Nagtataglay ng Bihirang Lakas
KAPWA Upliftment Foundation, Inc.
Kinaiyahan Foundation, Inc.
Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lunsod – Cebu
Krusada sa Kalikasan
LISU – Cebu
Mag-uuma sa Sirib Association
Malikhaing Landas na Magpapayabong sa Sining at Kultura – Cavite
Mamamayang Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying
Managing Alternatives Group, Inc.
Mindanao Land Foundation, Incorporated
Mother Earth Foundation
Movement for Imaginals for Sustainable Societies through Initiatives, Organization and Network – Davao City
November 17 Movement
Panalipdan Southern Mindanao Region
Partnership for Clean Air
Pesticide Action Network Philippines
Piglas Kabataan – Cebu
Pioneers and Christians and Muslim Alliance Network – Davao Oriental
Sanlakas – Cebu
San Lorenzo Ruiz Socio-Economic Development Foundation
San Lorenzo Parish, T’Boli, South Cotabato
Sarilaya – Cavite
Save Davao Shrine Hills Advocates
Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal
SIAD (Sustainable Integrated Area Development) Initiatives in Mindanao Convergence for Asset Reform and Regional Development [SIMCARRD] Sining Yapak
Social Action Center Diocesan Marbel
Think Green Initiative
University of Mindanao Legal Advocacy Network
Watershed Management Youth Council
International Civil Society Organizations:
AGENDA for Environment and Responsible Development (AGENDA), Tanzania
Alaska Community Action on Toxics, USA
Center for Communication and Sustainable Development for All (CECOSDA), Cameroon
Center for Environmental Justice and Development Organization, Kenya
Center for Environmental Justice/Friends of the Earth, Sri Lanka
Center for Public Health and Environmental Development (CEPHED), Nepal
Citizens Against Chemicals Pollution (CACP), Japan
Consumers’ Association of Penang, Malaysia
Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation in Indonesia (ECOTON), Indonesia
Environmental Justice Foundation, United Kingdom
Environment and Social Development Organization(ESDO), Bangladesh
Gita Pertiwi, Indonesia
KAN Centre for Environment and Development, Canada
National Toxics Network Inc., Australia
Pesticide Action Network, Aotearoa New Zealand
Pesticide Action Network, India
RAPAM / Pesticide Action Network, Mexico
Red de Acción en Plaguicidas y sus Alternativas para América Latina (RAP-AL), Uruguay
Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (CGFED), Vietnam
Research and Education Center for Development (CREPD), Cameroon
Sahabat Alam/Friends of the Earth, Malaysia
South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), South Africa
Taiwan Watch Institute, Taiwan
Uganda Network on Toxic Free Malaria Control (UNETMAC)
Wuhu Ecology Center, China