SMALL banana growers in Davao Region hailed the Department of Agriculture (DA) for inviting a foreign expert to explain the intricacies of aerial spraying.

Alma Cunanan, a banana grower from Davao del Norte, said the explanation of Dr. Andrew Hewitt on the drift of aerial spraying is enlightening.

"Dr. Hewitt's explanation only proves that the claim of those opposing aerial spraying about the drift was a product of an imaginative mind," said Cunanan, in reference to the claim of some groups that drift could reach to about 3.2 kilometers.

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Cunanan said government agencies must be like the DA, which has provided a venue for experts to present their take on certain issues.

She said those opposing the farm practice "are groups who are making a livelihood out of our livelihood," in reference to non-government organizations that have drawn funds from foreign donors by campaigning against aerial spraying.

Joining Cunanan in thanking the department was Rodolfo Villanueva, a leader of a community of agrarian reform beneficiaries who are into small banana growing.

Villanueva said with the latest revelation of Hewitt, those opposing aerial spraying will have second thoughts in calling for its banning.

"I hope they are also enlightened. Although this is just like reaching for the moon, I just hope they now start abandoning their crusade," he said.

In his presentation during the forum on aerial spraying, Hewitt explained that he has not encountered a 3.2 kilometer drift and that with the use of global positioning system and modern planes, drift has been minimized.

Hewitt was invited by the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority, an attached agency of the DA.

Also an expert in bio-aeronautics, Hewitt also saw for himself the spraying activities in Camocaan, a village in Hagonoy, Davao del Sur, which was a subject of a 2006 study funded by the Department of Health (DOH).

Based on what he saw in Camocaan, Hewitt said aerial spraying in this part of the country could pass international standards.

The village was a subject of a 2006 study funded by the DOH on the possible effects of Camocaan.

The study became the basis of the recommendation of then Health secretary Francisco Duque III for the banning of aerial spraying.

Duque made his recommendation even when the Inter-Agency Committee on Environmental Health junked a similar recommendation and that two groups making a peer review of the study, the University of the Philippines-Manila and the World Health Organization, branded the study as inconclusive.