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Heal Toxics is a member of the International POPs Elimination Network

This website provides resources on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) such as pesticides, dioxins, PCBs, and wastes. Valuable examples of community monitoring of health and environmental impacts of toxic chemicals are also furnished.

Further, there is an entire section devoted to chemical safety in its proper socio-political context or in relation to issues such as globalization and people's empowerment.

 

Paraquat, poison in Filipino food and environment

by Pesticide Action Network Philippines

PAN Philippines joins the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Chemical Poisoning in Bhopal, India by the Union Carbide Chemical Company in December 3, 1984. With our networks globally, we call on the leaders of the world to STOP THE IMPORTATION AND MANUFACTURING OF PESTICIDES especially those that belong to the “dirty dozen”. There are 39 products with paraquat or its derivatives circulating in the regional market, under names like: Gramoxone, Chapeador, Atila, Graminex, Serquat, Escopeta, Ultragrass, Fuego and Actor.

The most controversial among the herbicides is Paraquat or gramoxone. It is also the most widely used worldwide. Paraquat or gramoxone has been banned in Malaysia, Argentina and in many European countries because it has been proven to cause blurred vision, kidney and skin damages, intestinal illness, breathing difficulties, and death due to lung injury. In Argentina an average of 400,000 intoxications resulting from pesticides are reported in the region each year, and paraquat, whose producers say it is harmless if used with the necessary precautions, heads the list of agro-chemicals known as ”the dirty dozen”.

Paraquat makes up about half of the total herbicide market in Malaysia, worth 300 million ringgits (79 million dollars). Sygenta Philippine website published that 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, SYNGENTA PHILIPPINES, INC.,Tadeco, Tri Star Grp of Companies and Tropifresh are their partner plantations in the Philippines.

The Pesticide Action Network in the Philippines actively participated in the Berne Declaration, Foro Emaus, PAN AP, Pesticide Action Network UK and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation few years ago to draw attention to these global concerns and demand action to phase out Paraquat based products.

Paraquat cannot be used safely, particularly in plantations and on small farms, and an antidote is non-existent. These are known and acknowledged facts. People are dying while others are left seriously ill. Case studies reveal that the severest health impacts are found in developing countries where workers suffer from damage and degradation of the lungs, skin, eyes, nose, fingernails and toenails. Today, we reiterate the call to STOP its importation and ban its use in the country.

The health and environmental condition of the community in Kamukhaan Village in Guihing, Hagonoy, Davao del Sur can prove to the Philippine government that their involuntary exposure to pesticides and herbicides of their neighbor banana plantation is a strong reason for the total banning and not only restriction of paraquat or gramoxone and similar poison in the country. “The list of pesticides used by the plantation is already, by itself, a strong indication that the people of Kamukhaan are subjected to an exceptionally high level of agrochemical toxins. The pesticides used include highly toxic pesticides already documented to have severe harmful effects on animal and human health and have been banned or severely restricted in other countries, including the very countries where they originated. A cursory look at existing scientific information on some of the pesticides used in the plantation is enough to convince any rational human being that he/she would not want to be subjected to exposure to such pesticides as what the residents of Kamukhaan are being subjected to”. (Excerpt from the Report of Drs. Quijano, Hernandez and company).

The Philippine government recognizes that “pesticides are poisons, that if used improperly or without sufficient knowledge of their side effects, can endanger man and animals. Moreover, potential hazards to human health and wildlife can be created by residues from persistent pesticides that may build-up in the food chain and can cause contamination of the environment”(Pesticide Circular No.4 Series of 1989) and paraquat is one of them. It is known to be too hazardous for general use and is allowed only for institutional use. Unfortunately, while other countries banned the use of paraquat or gramoxone, the Philippine government has weakened its rules on pesticides and herbicides. The Department of Agriculture even aggressively promoting hybrid farm products that will require intensive synthetic fertilizers and pesticides instead of promoting indigenous, natural and organic method of farming without using poison. The Filipino farmers have been using synthetic chemical pesticides and herbicides in rice, vegetables, fruit trees and other farm products for decades. The banana and pineapple plantations in Mindanao, the mango plantations in Visayas and the vegetable and other fruit plantations in Luzon are all using synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers. It is therefore highly immoral to expose people to pesticides and other harmful chemicals for profit while harming human health and the habitat by manufacturing and circulating poison in the agriculture, food and market.

The lessons in Bhopal, India on Union Carbide chemical poisoning, that killed almost 10,000 people instantly, the recent chemical leak in Pasig City which caused the population of the elementary school nearby to complain of severe headache and drowsiness, the ongoing problems of the Kamukhaan Village people and other similar experiences should already teach the Philippine Government to STOP USING ALL KINDS OF SYNTHETIC CHEMICALS especially in the agriculture, food production, manufacturing, hospitals and households. Pesticides and herbicides can pollute and contaminate the bodies of waters, drinking waters including the plants not sprayed with pesticides when plantations and farms are flooded during rainy season.


©heal toxics, 2003
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