Number xxx, 2004
by Reina Azuma
Philippine Banana and Japan
1. The Issue
Philippine is one of the
worldfs largest banana exporters. For Japan, Philippine banana is the major
trade partner. Significant tracts of land are devoted to banana production in
the regions of Southern Mindanao, Southern Tagalog, the CARAGA, and Western
Visayas. Large contiguous areas are devoted for commercial production in four
provinces in Mindanao, namely Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, South Cotabato,
and Misamis Oriental. Japan has consistently been the largest importer of Philippine
bananas, accounting for more than 60% of the countryfs total fresh banana export
and about 15% of banana chips export.
Banana is considered as the most important fruit crop in the country in terms of volume of production and export earnings. Banana production contributes significantly not only to the national income in terms of export earnings but also to employment. But banana production, aside from the benefits, has said to have negative effects not only to the health of its workers who apply the pesticides during banana production, but also to the environment.
The issue of pesticides and Philippine bananas is fundamentally an issue of human rights and environmental issue. The Philippine bananas contained measurable levels of benomyl, thiophanate-methyl, TBZ, and mancozeb. The reason of the pesticide usage is obvious. It is to achieve high productivity and low cost to meet the demand. Because of the this reason, many large companies in Japan relies on usage of pesticide. Japanese government is setting the limits on usage of pesticide, though, the residues concerned people who worried about health risks from long-term exposure to the dangerous chemicals. It was a natural reaction of consumers to worry first about their own health, but a criticism arose among the Japanese consumers themselves that this concern was egocentric because people engaged in banana production in the Philippines were more directly and liberally exposed to the chemicals.
A leader of the Filipino banana workers' union visited Japan in 1986 to relate to consumers' groups the plight of chemical applicators on the banana plantations. The Stop the Philippine Banana Pesticides Campaign decided to pressure multinational corporations to improve working conditions on banana plantations by changing pesticide use. The campaign's first target was Sumitomo Corporation, a Japanese multinational corporation that operates banana plantations in Mindanao through the joint-venture company Davao Fruits Corporation (DFC).
In 1986 the "Stop the Philippine Banana Pesticides" campaign sent a team to investigate pesticide use on Davao Fruits Corporationfs Mindanao plantations. The field survey confirmed that at least 26 kinds of chemicals were used on DFC plantations, including World Health Organization (WHO) Class I-A (extremely hazardous) pesticides aldicarb, phenamiphos, ethoprop; the Class I-B (highly hazardous) carbofuran; Class 2 (moderately hazardous) pesticides paraquat, chorpyriphos, fenitrothion, and diazinon; and other pesticides including malathion, mancozeb, phosphamidon, and methyl bromide. Extremely hazardous chemicals like aldicarb, phenamiphos and ethoprop are not registered for use in Japan. Aldicarb, malathion and phosphamidon are not even registered for banana use in the Philippines.
such as paraquat, ethoprop, and phenamifos are only approved for institutional
use because they are too hazardous for general use.
Workers on both DFC plantations handle very dangerous chemicals without gloves or masks. As a result numerous workers are suffering physical disabilities. Workers who apply ethoprop complain that the smell of the chemical stays on them all the time, their skin becomes wrinkled, and they suffer from stomach aches and poor appetite. Many workers who deal with phenamiphos complain of sterility. One worker complained that he got purple rashes on both of his hands after applying chlorpyriphos, despite the use of gloves.
3. Related Cases
4. Author and Date: Reina Azuma August 2004
5. Discourse and Status: Disagreement and in Progress
Law in The Philippines
In 1977, Presidential Decree
No.1144 was issued creating the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) and
abolishing the Fertilizer and Industry Authority created in 1973. The FPA was
created mainly for the following reasons: to assure the agricultural sector
of adequate supplies of fertilizers and pesticides at reasonable prices, to
rationalize the manufacturing and marketing of fertilizers, to protect the public
from the risks inherent in the use of pesticides and to educate the agricultural
sector in the use of pesticides. The FPA today requires the registration of
all pesticides intoduced into the market.
Law in Japan
In Japan, the Ministry
of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries implemented the first pesticide residue
standard set on apples in 1956 (Sapporo City Institute of Public Health of Japan,
19979). By 1978, pesticide residue standards were extended to 53 food items
and 28 pesticides. But for the pesticides usage in other countries that export
food to Japan, are never screened for in food imports. Thus, the existing system
is not at all practical to cope with current levels of world pesticide use and
food trade. The laws effectively control pesticide residues in Japanese products,
but they are powerless in the case of imported food, especially fresh food.
6. Forum and Scope: Philippines and unilateral
7. Decision Breadth: Unilateral
8. Legal Standing: Law
9. Geographic Locations
a. Geographic Domain: Asia
b. Geographic Site: South Asia
c. Geographic Impact: The Philippines
10. Sub-National Factors: None
11. Type of Habitat: Tropical
12. Type of Measure: Regulatory Standard
13. Direct v. Indirect Impacts: Direct
14. Relation of Trade Measure to Environmental Impact
a. Directly Related to Product: Yes, banana
b. Indirectly Related to Product: No
c. Not Related to Product: No, banana
d. Related to Process: Pollution
15. Trade Product Identification: Banana
16. Economic Data
Bananas are the main fruit in international trade and the most popular one in the world. In terms of volume they are the first exported fruit, while they rank second after citrus fruit in terms of value. Banana is a very delicate commodity on economic, social, environmental and political grounds. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Statistics estimations, world total exports of banana accounted for 14,7 million tonnes in 2002. As it is the case for most tropical products, due to the special climatic conditions needed to grow bananas, they are mainly produced in developing countries. Around 98% of world production is grown in developing countries. Developed countries are the usual destination for export bananas. In 2003, a total of 123 countries produced bananas. Bananas are imported mainly by the European Union, the United States of America and Japan, which together accounted for about 70% of world total imports in 2002.
of the world Banana exports
Average on the 1998-2002 period
As seen from above, Ecuador exports more bananas than any other country in the world, and has been the top exporter of banana to the EU. Leading importer of the Costa Rican banans are the US, Argentina, Chile and Japan.
of the world Banana imports
Average on the 1998-2002 period
From the above table on distribution of the world banana imports, United States is the world top importer. United States, as well, was having a dispute on banana with Costa Rica. The controversial issue was on pesticide usage during the production of banana in Costa Rica. See COSTPEST.
Distribution of the Japan banana imports
17. Impact of Trade Restriction: High
The report from the Development Research Group indicates that a 10 percent increase in regulation -tighter restrictions on the pesticide chlorpyrifos - leads to a decrease in banana imports by 14.8 percent. This represents a significant impact on trade, including prospects for developing countries, which continue to rely on exports of agricultural commodities such as bananas.
18. Industry Sector: Agriculture
19. Exporters and Importers: Philippine and Many countries
20. Environmental Problem Type: Pollution Land
21. Name, Type, and Diversity of Species: Banana
damages and causes attributed to banana production
General Information on Pesticide
Pesticides are diverse
and omnipresent. Approximately 1400 pesticides are being used worldwide. Commonly
used pesticides include herbicides (destroys unwanted weeds and plants), insecticides
(kills insects and other arthropods), rodenticide (controls ice and other rodents),
and fungicides (kills fungi). All pesticides are toxic by their nature, and
hence, they cause human and animal health hazards through exposure or dietary
intake. Pesticide residues to the local environment (air, soil and surface water)
affect the lives of birds, wildlife, domestic animals, fish, livestock and human
beings. Human health hazards vary with the type of the pesticides and also with
the extent of exposure. Moderate human health hazards from pesticides include
mild headaches, flu, skin rashes, blurred vision and other neurological disorders
while rare, but severe human health hazards include paralysis, blindness, and
even death. Some study shows that pesticides can damage the human immune system
by reducing the number of white blood cells and disease fighting lymphocytes.
Long run health impacts include cancer, infertility, miscarriage, male sterility,
birth defects, and effects on the nervous system.
According to the REPORT ON PESTICIDE POISONING IN THE PHILIPPINES, a total of 273 cases of poisoning were reported in the Philippines, 53.1% were male while 46.9% were female. . The most common place of exposure was in the rural home then the urban home and in less than 10% in the farm or field. Insecticides account for 71.3% of the poisoning incidents followed by herbicides 10.2%. In about 10.9%, the exact identity of the pesticide was not known. Of the pesticides, pyrethroids were the culprits in 29.3% and organophosphates in 22%. Some of the most common pesticides used include cypermethrin, malathion, carbofuran, combination cyfluthrin, dichlorvos and propoxur and deltamethrin. A total of sixteen deaths were reported over the year, many due to severe cases of organophosphate or organochlorine poisoning.
22. Resource Impact and Effect: High
23. Urgency and Lifetime: Medium and 10Years
24. Substitutes: Producing organic bananas without usage of harmful chemicals.
25. Culture: No
26. Trans-Boundary Issues: No
27. Rights: Yes
28. Relevant LiteratureThe Official Government Portal of The Republic of the Philippines
PANNA Pesticide Action Network North AmericaREPORT ON PESTICIDE POISONING IN THE PHILIPPINES Presented at 7th GINC Meeting Tokyo, Japan
To Spray or Not to Spray: Pesticides, Banana Exports, and Food Safety John S. Wilson Tsunehiro Otsuki Development Research Group (DECRG)
Banana and Japanese Yoshiyuki Tsurumi
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
MAFF Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery of Japan