Organic farmers’ group hits CA order on aerial spray

Aerial spraying, said the Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG), is an attack against farmers' rights to practice sustainable agriculture.

The Jan. 28 order of the court's Branch 22 based in Cagayan de Oro City immediately suspended the effect of the ordinance passed by Davao's Sangguniang Panlungsod last year.

Associate justices Mario Lopez, Romulo Borja, and Elihu Ybanez signed the order.

The writ came after the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the court on aerial spraying has expired.

"Many of our organic farmers have been complaining over the contamination of their farms and surroundings by poisonous mists coming from the aerial spraying," Diego dela Cruz, chair of MASIPAG's regional project management team, said in a statement.

MASIPAG is a network of more than 400 organizations — including farmers', scientists' and non-government organizations — promoting sustainable agriculture and organic farming all over the country.

The group said a number of their farmers in Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, Davao del Sur and Davao City have been affected by aerial spraying.

MASIPAG asked the CA to lift the writ and "let the Davao City local government protect its people."

The group also urged the CA to "take side with the poor and not the rich banana growers who profit at our expense."

Dela Cruz stressed that aerial spraying is actually an attack against small farmers who want to have healthy lives by growing chemical-free crops because they do not have money to spend for medicines.

"We can no longer drink the waters from the spring. Our vegetables, especially the leafy ones, cannot be eaten anymore by our families and animals," lamented Ma. Consolacion Baylosis, chair of the Nagkahiusang Kababaehan ug Kalalakin-an nga Mag-uuma sa Kauswagan (United Women and Men Farmers in Kauswagan, or NAKASAKA) in Panabo, Davao del Norte.

Her organic farm was reportedly among those contaminated by aerial spraying, with airplanes dropping chemicals in a plantation near her farm several times a week.

"We want to produce and eat food free from poison even if we are poor. This is our way of asserting our right to health," she said. (MindaNews)