Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Aerial Spray: Environment Or Industry?

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 27 Mar) - While saying that the banana industry has the right to question the legality of the approved ordinance that banned aerial spraying in Davao City, an environmental non-government organization has expressed readiness to face the challenge of the possible legal battle—taking confidence on the gravity of the reasons behind the ban being health and environment.

Lia Jasmin Esquillo, executive director of the Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (Idis), said their group has been anticipating for the banana industry to exhaust all avenues they could find available just to stop the full implementation of the ordinance signed into law in February.

The ban, which gave banana plantations three months to make the necessary changes in their operations, will take effect by June 22.

“We have already expected for the banana industry to exploit the available space of being in a democracy. But we are ready for whatever they could come up with as we did before and we are confident that the law will favor the welfare of the people and the protection of the environment,” Esquillo said.

Esquillo said that they believe the law will see uphold the constitutional right of the people to a safe environment and healthy life. These were the same arguments, strongly backed by the precautionary principle, used to dense-up the demand to ban aerial spraying.

Recently, Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association chairman, Stephen Antig, said they will question the legality of the ordinance and expressed their desire for the city government to reconsider their three-month phase-out period.

The three-month period, according to Antig, is too short for the PBGEA-member to shift from aerial spraying to ground spraying procedures. He also said that the Philippines is the only country where aerial spraying in banana plantation is banned.

Esquillo also said that the banana companies were given more than enough time to during the council deliberations to “negotiate for a favorable phase-out period but what did they offer? 25 years? What do they think of the Dabawenyos? Stupid?”

While admitting the fact that it is only in the Philippines that aerial spraying ban is imposed in banana plantations, Esquillo said that the same calls in other banana producing countries are also being strongly pushed.

Esquillo is referring to Costa Rica and Columbia. She stressed that calls to ban aerial spraying is also strong in Alaska, Maine and California in USA, Victoria in Canada, New Zealand, India and some countries in the Europe.

Aerial spraying of pesticides is also banned in Denmark, Estonia, Slovenia and with partial bans in Italy, Australia and Belgium.

In the Philippines, aerial spraying in banana plantations was banned in Bukidnon in 2001. (Jeff Tupaz)

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