Campaign vs. pesticides kicks off in Digos City

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/05 December) – The environment group Citizens Alliance Unified for Sectoral Empowerment in Davao del Sur (Cause-DS) on Friday launched a weeklong campaign dubbed “No Pesticides Use Week” in Digos City, capital of Davao del Sur.

This year’s campaign, according to Cause-DS secretary-general Bernard Vinan, focuses on saving women and children from highly hazardous pesticides.

In Davao del Sur, Vinan said, highly toxic pesticides continue to be used in banana plantations, mango orchards, and rice fields.

Cause-DS has linked with the Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PANAP) in the campaign that bears the theme “Women and the Highly Hazardous Pesticides.”

The campaign is not only in Southern Mindanao but also in at least nine countries in the Asia-Pacific, according to Vinan.

PANAP has 12 partner organizations based in countries in the Asia-Pacific.

The campaign started on December 3 with the commemoration of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy in India where thousands of victims continue to seek medical treatment.

After 26 years, those responsible for the crime are yet to be punished, victims have not been awarded just compensation, and scores of them continue to die due to lack of proper medical treatment, reports said.

Vinan said this year’s “No Pesticides Use Week” campaign calls for international actions towards the reduction and elimination of highly hazardous pesticides and their impacts on women.

PANAP-Philippines president and medical toxicologist Dr. Romeo Quijano said that highly hazardous pesticides have high potentials in causing illness, injury, and death to humans and animals, or damage to the environment.

The No Pesticides Use Week was held in Digos City as the Organic Day was also being celebrated in other parts of Southern Mindanao. Both campaigns hope to raise public awareness on the harmful effects of pesticides.

One of the publications of PANAP, a book published by Dr. Meriel Watt on pesticides and breast cancer, will be used as a campaign material.

Vinan said the campaign has already yielded “good results.”

Recently, the legislative councils of Davao City and Davao del Norte both passed ordinances promoting organic agriculture.

“These local ordinances are of great help to small farmers in ending our dependence on highly hazardous pesticides and showing that there are many ways of growing food through non-chemical alternatives,” said Nanay Quiling, an advocate of organic vegetable farming in Davao City. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)