MANILA, Philippines - Croplife, a group of crop protection advocates, has urged government to take a balanced view on the aerial spraying issue in Mindanao, warning that a ban would send wrong signals and compromise the competitiveness of the booming Philippine banana industry in the global market.
Croplife executive director Sim Cuyson said the government should explore all possibilities for a win-win solution.
Cuyson suggested the conduct of an independent study, with the protocol mutually agreed upon by all parties concerned to validate the results of the Department of Health/ Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology (PSCOT) /National Poison Management and Control Center (NPMCC) study, even before any decision to stop aerial spraying is taken.
Croplife is questioning a DOH recommendation to ban aerial spraying on the basis of a DOH-commissioned study that has been found, on peer review by no less than the World Health Organization (WHO), to be “inconclusive” and should not be used as a basis for the ban.
“The whole decision-making process is now complicated by politics. Aerial spraying is a health issue as much as it is an issue about agriculture – about people’s rights to decent life, about people’s freedom from hunger, about the very livelihood of people living in the banana growing provinces of Mindanao,” he said.
Cuyson said the DOH is putting at risk the livelihood not only of the banana growers, but also of 500,000 people who are employed directly and indirectly in about 60,000 hectares of banana plantations all over Mindanao.
The Philippines now ranks second, next to Ecuador, as the largest banana exporting country in the world.
The Philippine banana industry contributes more than $700 million annually to the country’s economy.
Cuyson said that the Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) pointed out that during the over 40 years of aerial spraying in the banana plantations, they have not received any single report of diseases or death attributable to aerial spraying and its drift to non-target areas and communities.