Campaign for World No Pesticides Day kicks
by Pesticide Action Network Philippines
Pesticide Action Network Philippines today joined
the world in commemorating No Pesticides Day by and launched an
internationally-coordinated campaign to hold agro-chemical companies
and plantations accountable for chemical disasters in the Philippines.
The campaign kicked off in Mindanao, wherein villagers victimized
by pesticide use in nearby banana plantations in Mindanao attended
two forums hosted by local farmer organizations and Pesticide
Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP), entitled “Pesticide
Poisoning and Corporate Accountability: Remembering the Bhopal
Dr. Romeo Quijano, president of PAN Philippines and a professor
in the University of the Philippines, talked on the adverse effects
of pesticides on health and the environment. Dr. Quijano is currently
battling in court a damage suit filed by Lapanday Agricultural
Development Corporation owned by former Agriculture secretary
Luis Lorenzo Jr., for an expose on the banana plantation’s
harmful pesticide use affecting a nearby village in Digos, Davao
del Sur called Kamukhaan. The Kamukhaan case has gained wide public
support since it was first published in 2000, yet until now the
villagers continue to fall sick, having no respite from the plantation’s
Hundreds of villagers who attended PAN AP’s forums in Digos
and Nabunturan, Davao del Norte, related well to the yearly commemoration
of the Bhopal tragedy, since they find it similar to their situation
living near or working in banana plantations using highly toxic
For example, paraquat, produced by Syngenta Corporation, is used
or have been used by plantations such as AMS Farming Corporation,
Davao Agricultural Ventures Corp, Del Monte Fresh Produce Phils.,
Dole Philippines Inc, FS Dizon & Sons Inc., Kenram (Phils.),
Inc., Lapanday Foods Corporation, Marsman-Drysdale Agribusiness
Group, Oribanex Trading Corp, Stanfilco,Tadeco, Tri Star Group
of Companies and Tropifresh, most of which are found in Mindanao.
Paraquat is part of the “Dirty Dozen” list of pesticides
that have been proven to cause severe health and environmental
damage. It is already banned in Malaysia and other European countries.
Unfortunately, the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority revoked
a previous order restricting its use due to intense lobbying by
Syngenta. Right now, there is an international effort led by environmental
NGOs such as PAN, Berne Declaration, and the Swedish Society for
Nature Conservation to stop its production, importation, and use,
particularly in Third World countries like the Philippines.
“Agro-chemical transnationals and big plantations must
be made accountable for the country’s worst chemical disasters
in far-flung areas such as Kamukhaan. At the same time, the government
must resist the influence of these corporations in order to stop
the terrible waste of human life and the environment caused by
pesticides,” said Dr. Quijano.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Manila, Nueva Ecija, Laguna, Bicol, Cordillera,
and Cagayan Valley, the RESIST alliance (Resistance and Solidarity
Against Agrochemical TNCs) will be holding a series of forums
and photo-exhibit entitled “The Politics of Pesticides:
Changing the World’s Agriculture and People’s Resistance”
starting December 8 to commemorate No Pesticides Day. Such awareness-raising
efforts among students and farmers will focus on the historical
background of the pesticides; health, environment and socio-economic
effects brought about by pesticides; and the people’s resistance
and alternatives to pesticides.
The NGO Magsasaka at Siyentipiko Para sa Pag-Unlad ng Agrikultura
(MASIPAG) will also hold a forum in North Cotabato on December
6-7 about genetically-modified organisms. The forum will focus
on how GMO crops actually increase pesticide use. Producers of
GMOs, such as Monsanto, are the same agro-chemical transnationals
who introduced pesticides in agriculture.
December 3, dubbed as World No Pesticides Day, is the 20th anniversary
of the Bhopal tragedy in India wherein the chemical spill of the
pesticides company Union Carbide (now Dow Chemicals) in 1984 caused
the instant death of 8,000 people and injured more than 500,000.
The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal reports that
today, more than 150,000 people are still reeling from the health
effects of the world’s worst chemical disaster two decades
ago. These include children born to parents who survived the disaster,
who are suffering from cancer, neurological damage, nausea, breathlessness,
numb limbs, headaches, body aches, fevers, anxiety attacks, chaotic
menstrual cycles, depression and mental illness.
This year, the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal,
has also called this year’s two-decade commemoration as
the International Day of Action Against Corporate Crime, in order
to pressure Dow Chemicals to face criminal charges filed against
them in the Bhopal District Court.