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Crop Biotech Update

Professor Warns Health and Environmental Hazards of Excessive Insecticide Use, Bt Eggplant - a Promising Technological Development

February 18, 2011

A University of the Philippines (UP) Manila professor at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Jinky Leilani Lu, warned of the hazards posed by chemical pesticide spraying. She said that mere exposure of skin to the chemicals may be deadly. In the "Seminar on Creating Awareness, Knowledge, and Understanding of Biotech Crops" last February 10, 2011 at Pangasinan State University (PSU), Dr. Lu presented preliminary results of an ongoing study about pesticide, particularly insecticide residues in eggplant farms.

"Burning sensations, headache, and itchiness were among the symptoms recorded based on the health assessment among the farmers," reported Dr. Lu. She also reported the unsafe work practices observed among the farmers. Among these were the non-wearing of any Personal Protective Equipment during spraying and re-entering of a previously sprayed area. She recommended following safety tips such as donning proper gear before and immediately taking a bath after spraying.

In a related research effort, the practice of dipping eggplant fruits in a cocktail mix of insecticides was noted in a profitability study of eggplant farms in top provinces in the country by Dr. Cesar Quicoy, an economics professor from UP Los Baños.

According to Dr. Lu, the Bt eggplant technology is a very promising development in vegetable farming as it will tremendously decrease the health and environmental associated risks related to chemical pesticide use.

For more information about the seminar, e-mail SEARCA BIC at bic@agri.searca.org, or visit SEARCA BIC website http://www.bic.searca.org.