THE "Technical Forum on the Science Behind Aerial Spraying" will be held on from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday at the Lorenzo Hall, Administration Building of the University of the Philippines-Mindanao in Mintal, Davao City.

The forum will seek to answer questions and uncertainties about this agricultural method of applying farm inputs. The public is invited.

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A Technical Presentation will be given by Doctor Andrew Hewitt, MSc, PhD, an independent international expert on aerial spraying.

Doctor Hewitt was invited by the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to help the Task Force on Aerial Spraying formulate guidelines on future studies and policy guidelines on aerial spraying in the Philippines.

Reactors, who will give their reactions to the technical presentation, are Davao City Councilor Leonardo Avila III, chair of the City Council committee on environment, Department of Health's (DOH) Rex Labadia, and UP-Mindanao Scientist Professor Eufemio Rasco Jr.

An open forum, to be facilitated by UP Los Baños College of Agriculture Professor Doctor Calixto Protacio, will give members of the audience an opportunity to interact with the resource persons.

UP-Mindanao Chancellor Gilda Rivero will be present to give the welcome address.

Opening remarks will be made by Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority Executive Director Doctor Norlito R. Gicana.

Cris Michelena of the Initiative for Farm Advocacy and Resource Management Incorporation (Ifarm) will be the Emcee.

Inquiries may be directed to Rene Estremera, UP-Mindanao Public Relations Officer at 293-0258 or 293-0016. The forum is part of the UP-Mindanao 15th anniversary symposium series.

The controversy over aerial spraying on banana plantations in the Davao region lingered since 2002. It has resulted to a series of debates among legislators, environmentalists, scientists, health advocates, human rights defenders, and owners of and nearby residents of banana plantations.

Public hearings had been conducted to provide a venue for the complaints of the residents who claimed to have acquired diseases caused by the drift of pesticides during aerial spraying.

However, the question on whether to totally ban aerial spraying or provide alternatives or guidelines for safe use still hangs in the hands of the authorities. The call for a ban on aerial spraying has been on the run in the House of Representatives.

To note, several house bills and resolutions were passed by some representatives to prohibit aerial spray and to inquire into all possible alternatives to aerial spraying in aid of legislations. (Lori Ann Cascaro)