ANOTHER expert in science has rebuffed the findings of a study done on the adverse effects of aerial spraying on the human population in communities near agricultural plantations.
University of the Philippines (UP) Los Baños Professor Emeritus Dr. Romulo G. Davide debunked the controversial Department of Health (DOH) study in his presentation during the Pest Management Council of the Philippines (PMCP) convention in Davao City.
"Can we stop aerial spraying of fungicides on banana? Not now! Maybe in the next 10 years or more, until our scientists can develop through well conceptualized R & D projects, new technologies that are better than the current practice of aerial spraying," Davide said.
The study was used as basis to call for the banning of aerial spraying.
Pointing out several weaknesses of the study, Davide said it was not a credible basis for banning the agricultural method.
Among the weaknesses of the study that Davide mentioned are too small sample size to represent the entire Davao Region and to recommend banning of aerial spraying; inconsistencies like statistical results that were found to be insignificant were presented as significant in the conclusion of the study; and presence of recall bias among mothers and volunteer bias of respondents, who were allegedly informed to be availing of medical mission services instead of a physical examination for the study.
"This is a welcome development in our fight against the move to destroy the banana industry by banning aerial spraying. Dr. Davide and the Pest Management Council of the Philippines have helped shed light on this issue and confirmed that aerial spraying is the safest and most effective method of applying low-dose fungicide," Lilia Chacon of Checkered Farms in Davao del Norte, said after Davide's presentation.
Davide said the problem is not aerial spraying but the sigatoka disease.
"Walang sigatoka, walang spraying. So we have to do something with the disease," he said.
On the other hand, he noted improvements on the agricultural practice, which has developed along its 40 years of existence. A few of which are the very precise operations, brought about by the digital technology and Global Positioning System (GPS) that automatically detects the area of coverage releasing only the right amount of the spray solution.
Davide also commended President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for creating a task force headed by Secretary Jesus Dureza, who will look closely into the issue.
"It's really been radicalized, politicized, with religious overtone," Davide lamented. "This problem is a technical and scientific problem."