By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Deputy Speaker and AAMBIS-OWA partylist Rep. Sharon Garin is calling on concerned agencies and stakeholders involved in the drafting of the implementing rules and regulation (IRR) of the recently-signed National Integrated Cancer Control Act to include the agricultural workers in the cancer awareness campaign as mandated by law.
She said the welfare of agricultural workers should also be considered in the drafting of the IRR of Republic Act 11215.
Garin, co-author of the law, noted that Article IV of the National Integrated Cancer Control Act states that the awareness campaign must increase cancer literacy among Filipinos and help understand risk factors associated with cancer.
“Agricultural workers, particularly those who are working in vegetable farms, have high exposure to pesticides with carcinogens,” she pointed out.
Garin, who authored the Farm Workers’ Protection Act or House Bill 6279, said there is a need to educate agricultural workers about the risks of being exposed to highly toxic pesticides that may lead to cancer.
According to the Journal of Rural Medicine, organophosphate insecticides are the most common category used in the Philippines, followed by carbamates and synthetic pyrethroids.
Garin expressed concern that many carbamates are known carcinogens.
Citing a 2010 study conducted in Northern Luzon, she said children aged six to eight years who were involved in pesticide preparation and application for vegetable growing were reported to experience headaches, skin irritation and abdominal pain.
The House woman leader said it is about time to support the development of organic agriculture in the country that promotes the use of natural pesticides and fertilizers.
“Organic agriculture, according to the Department of Agriculture, will enhance soil fertility and farm biodiversity, reduce pollution and destruction of the environment and prevent further depletion of natural resources,” Garin said.
“Further, organic agriculture products are less prone to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) commonly found in industrial chemicals and agricultural pesticides. EDCs have been found to drive cancer progression and are known to interfere with any aspect of hormone function,” she added.