The prevalence of pesticide poisoning among Filipino farmers has prompted a party-list legislator to provide firmer guidelines on the protection of farmworkers against the risks of being exposed to highly toxic pesticides.
AAMBIS-OWA Rep. Sharon Garin, in filing House Bill 3595, otherwise known as Farm Workers’ Protection Act, said farmers and agricultural workers, particularly those working in vegetable farms, had high exposure to pesticides with carcinogens.
Citing the Journal of Rural Medicine, Garin said organophosphate insecticides were the most common category of pesticide used in the Philippines, followed by carbamates (which are known carcinogens) and synthetic pyrethroids.
Upon the enactment of the bill, farm owners and operators will be required to conduct mandatory testing for the presence of organophosphate pesticides in their respective agricultural sites.
The bill further proposes an intensified education campaign among farmworkers and their families about the hazards of exposure to pesticides, how to avoid such exposures to children, personal clothing and possessions, and what to do if pesticide exposure or contamination occurs.
A provision in the bill also requires every incident of pesticide exposure to farmworkers or their families, whether by direct exposure to pesticide applications or from the drift of pesticides from the application site, must be reported to the Department of Agriculture.
Citing a 2015 study done on pesticide use among farmers in Mindanao, Garin echoed the need to educate farmers about the risks of being exposed to highly toxic pesticides, underscore the importance of proper handling and application, and introduce alternative pest management methods.
The bill is pending with the Committee on Agriculture and Food.