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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.

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Bohol Poisoing Aftermath: Groups revive campaign vs pesticides

by Germelina Lacorte, Philippine Daily Inquirer

DAVAO CITY-The food poisoning that killed 27 children in Bohol has given environmentalists a new reason to fight for a total pesticide ban in the country and to call for the abolition of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA).

Mindanao-based coalitions of environment groups dared Congress to act on the charter that created the FPA, and abolish it because of its failure to ensure people's safety from pesticides entering the country.

"What can kill insects can also kill humans," said Dr. Romy Quijano, president og Pesticide Action Network-Phillipines and a University of the Philippines toxicologist actively campaigning for a pesticide ban in Mindanao.

Common ingredient

Quijano's statement came after the health department concluded that the 27 children who died in Bohol early this month had eaten food laced with chemical compound carbamate, a common ingredient of agricultural and household pesticides.

"If FPA cannot do its job of ensuring people's safety from pesticides, there is no reason why it continues to exist," according to Dr. Rex Linao, co-convenorof the environment group Panaghoy sa Kinaiyahan-Coalition for Mother Earth.

Linao had proposed that the FPA be dissolved and the savings the government will get as a result be used to compensate victims of pesticide poisoning in the country each year.

Fatal recess

Twenty-seven schoolchildren died and scores of others were hospitalized from a rural village in the central island of Bohol on March 9 after eating caramelized cassava during recess, a disaster that the health department blamed on careless food preparation.

Quijano has repeatedly warned people against the hazardous effects of pesticides. He said nobody is safe from pesticides, which until now are still being used by big banana plantations in Mindanao.

"They're like bombs, designed to kill," said Linao.

Earlier, Quijano said over 30 chemical pesticides, already banned in Europe and the United States, where they originated, are still being used by banana plantations in the Philippines.

Linao said only a few doctors in the country are trained to diagnose pesticide poisoning and most of the cases happening in big banana plantations in Mindanao go unreported.

Each year, over 220,000 people die of pesticide poisoning, mostly in poor countries, where over 25 million are poisoned by banned pesticides, according to the World Health Organization and the United Nations for Environment Protection (UNEP).

Earlier, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Reynaldo Wycoco confirmed that pesticide, not cyanide naturally found in cassava, killed the children.

©heal toxics, 2003
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