AERIAL spraying is still the safest and proven to be the most effective method of applying agricultural chemicals on massive plantations, the Pest Management Council of the Philippines (PMCP) said.

"There is no need to ban this application method of aerial spraying," the position paper presented by PMCP president Gil Magsino stated during the group's Annual Scientific Conference in Davao City on March 9 to 12.

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The conference gathered more than 300 experts like plant pathologists, entomologists, weed scientists, vertebrate pest scientists, including some of the pillars of Philippine Agriculture like Dr. Romulo Davide, Professor Emeritus of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños.

PMCP confirmed that aerial spray "has not exhibited any alarming indication of environmental or epidemiological proportions" in its 40-year history of use in the Philippines.

PMCP reiterated the stand of Congress and the banana industry, itself, that adequate and enforceable regulation of the practice is the answer.

It added that standards have been well established worldwide to ensure safe and responsible aerial spraying, which can be adopted in a highly agricultural economy and society as in the Philippines.

It came in support to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who recently gave a similar position, which the council cited as the "most reasonable" with regard to this issue.

On one hand, it called for further strengthening of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority of the Department of Agriculture as a regulatory agency that will monitor this agricultural practice.

It suggested that monitoring steps should deal with public and environmental health and that the results should be made public and transparent.

To avoid miscommunication with public and stakeholders, "active steps must be continuously taken to bridge the gap between the public and the scientific community."

The council is the largest group of professional scientists in the field of entomology, plant pathology, weed science and related field of discipline, with members from the academe, private and government sectors.

It is composed of three scientific societies: Philippine Association of Entomologists, Philippine Phytopathological Society, and the Weed Science Society of the Philippines.

Four associations are also part of the council: CropLife, Crop Protection Association of the Philippines, Philippine Integrated Crop Management Association Inc., and Pest Control Association of the Philippines.

The council is mainly engaged in research, training and extension on pest management. It seeks to promote these researches and the application of scientific knowledge and cooperate with the government in all matters of national concern in the field of pest management. (CPM)