The human cost of agrotoxins

Pablo Piovano

2014 - Ongoing


The human cost of agrotoxins - Pablo E. Piovano

In 1996, the Argentinean Government approved the commercialization of transgenic soybeans and the use of the glyphosate herbicide. The decision to allow the use of these genetically modified organisms (GMOs) was taken without conducting any official research and taking as scientific evidence an investigation published by Monsanto Company. The administrative process to habilitate the use of the transgenic soybean cultivation took only three months. Since then the South American country became an experimental field.

In 2015, after almost two decades, over 24.5 million hectares, which represent the 60 percent of the country’s cultivated surface, were sprayed with 320 million liters of agrotoxins: 200 million liters of glyphosate and 120 million liters of other herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. The vast majority of those products are forbidden in most countries of the world. According to the information of the crop-sprayed towns, 13.4 million people are affected by this phenomenon. With a usage of agrotoxines of 7.6 liters per person, Argentina has one of the highest rates in the planet. This represents an increase of 1057% in twenty years.

The agrotoxines business in Argentina is lead by a group of 25 national and multinational companies, with a total profit of almost 3000 million dollars a year. Their profitability grew 36.5% last year, one of the highest performances in among the industrial sectors of the country. The agricultural system in Argentina is based entirely on poisons, biocides and herbicides that serve to eliminate weeds, insects, fungus, etc. There are 300 approved agrochemical compounds and every month 10 new are launched (many are prohibited in other places of the world). The law allows to up to 95 of those poisons, biocides and herbicides use in a single product like tomatoes or cotton, among others.Hundreds of investigations show the human and environmental damage of the agrotoxines. For example a health survey conducted by the Rosario National University showed that in the crop-sprayed towns the oncological rate is 2 or 3 times higher than the national average. In some of those towns, the cases of malformation in new born babies and the spontaneous abortion increased exponentially with the extension of the use of transgenic crop. Another research on vegetables and fruits randomly selected by La Plata National University revealed that between 70% and 80% of those products contained between 2 and 3 agrotoxines. A recent investigation by The National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) that was published by the International Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Magazine, showed that one of the most important river basins in South America, the Paraná River, is completely contaminated with glyphosate or AMPA (degradation of glyphosate). Another terrible consequence of the rulling agroindustrial model is the displacement of the native population and the massive logging of autochthonous trees.

Important media enterprises have perversely hidden the outrageous numbers of the affected population and became accomplices of those directly responsible like corporations, politicians and landowners. Along the Human history communities have feed themselves with the resources of the land. The last generation is eating products that are made in a laboratory, which raises questions about food safety. If corporations control food production public health is at risk. When that happens what is at stake is freedom.

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  • 23/9/2015 Monte Maiz, province of Cordoba, Argentina
    Alfredo Cerán worked for nine years as a ground crop-duster applying agrochemicals in soybean fields. His fingernail matrices burned.
    His medical blood tests for agrochemicals showed residues of glyphosate, Clorpiritos, Azatrine, 2.4-D and Cipermetrina.

  • 12-08-2014 San Vicente, Province of Misiones.
    Talía Belén Soroco (14 years) has a congenital malformation. She underwent heart surgery and suffers severe motor problems. Her father Juan and her mother Anita worked in the tobacco fields since they were children and manipulated forbidden pesticides such as Furadan and bromomethane. Soon after the birth of their daughter Talía, they decided to leave the fields and undertake sustainable horticulture.

  • 12-07-2014, Alicia Baja- Colonia Aurora, Province of Misiones
    Lucas Techeira is 5 years old and has an incurable disease called Lamellar Ichthyosis caused by a gen mutation. Misiones province was the gate of the transgenic crops in Argentina. The Argentinian Government authorize the use since 1996 based only on Monsanto’s studies.

  • 11-12-2014 Fracrán, Province of Misiones
    Since Jesica Sheffer (11) was seven years old, she has been suffering from a tendon malformation that prevents her from standing up straight. Her mother, Ramona Angélica de Lima, has African origins and she has six children. Ramona and her husband came to the village of Fracrán 30 years ago when very few families were living there. Fracrán is a tobacco producing area with a high incidence of people affected by agrotoxins.
    In the Province of Misiones, five in a thousand children are born with myelomeningocele (MMC), a severe malformation of the central nervous system. Children are born with the spinal cord open and left with urinary and fecal incontinence and problems in their lower limbs.

  • 06-04-2015 San Vicente, Province of Misiones
    Sandra Sosa is Leonardo Lorenzo's mother, suffering from brain paralysis and epilepsy as a result of the repeating fumigations. They currently live in the "Progeso" neighbor, where the number of disabled children and teenagers is growing exponentially.

  • 18-11-2014, Entre Rios, Argentina
    Fabián Tomasi worked for years on loading and pumping jobs in an aerial crop-spraying company. He suffers from severe toxic poly-neuropathy and is currently being treated for general muscular atrophy, which keeps him bed-ridden.
    Fabián has become a living example of the impact of agrochemicals on human health. He devotes his life to spreading awareness of this problem.

  • 22-11-2014 Gral Campos, province of Entre Ríos.
    Maribella Alexandra Duarte (2004) suffers from a congenital malformation that does not allow her to move around by her own means. She and her family live some 30 meters away from soybean fields exposed to spraying of fungicides. Her mother Mariela Montes recalls that 20 days ago she had to run in the aid of her 7 children because her house had received air spraying. In their village 19 cases of terminal cancer were registered on the 500 meters that look upon a soybean farm.

  • 12/11/2014 Colonia A - Colonia Alicia, Province of Misiones.
    Ademir Gotin is a 20 years old boy. He suffers severe mental disability. Andrea Gotin, her sister was a healthy girl. When she was eight years old, she inhaled bromomethane and had to be hospitalized. She spent nine days in intensive care. A few hours after inhaling the substance the fever went up, affecting the motor functions of her brain. She needs a kidney transplant and has to undergo dialysis three times a week.

  • 06-12-2014 Colonia Aurora, province of Misiones
    Marcos Alejandro Kaddaztz suffered from leukemia when he was 10. His father has been working as an air sprayer of fungicide on the tobacco fields for 32 years, his mother was in hospital due to an intoxication before Marcos was born. Today he is 20 years and his family had to move from the farm where they live and establish in the town. Marcos has been on the waiting list for three years waiting for a kidney transplant in Posadas hospital.

  • 29 -11-2014. Napenay, Province of Chaco.
    Anita Sosa (2011) can’t walk by herself but she plays dreaming to be a dancer together with her elder sister. Liliana Dworak, mother of both, talked about several highly toxic substances she was exposed to and that complicated her last pregnancy. She had her house spread by the local administration to control dengue.

  • 15/04/2015, Colonia Alicia Misiones. Argentina
    Andresa Gotin 16 years dedicated her life to caring for the house and his
    brother Ademir.

  • 11-04-2015 El Soberbio, province of Misiones.

  • 15-04-2015, Alicia Alta- Misiones
    A girl runs across the fields.

  • 20-12-2016 province of Santa Fe.

  • 9/4/2015, Pozo Azul province of Misiones- Argentina

    This photo was taken a few meters from the school that this child attends. Centeras of rural schools are fumigated in Argentina

  • 10-12-2014 San Vicente, Province of Misiones
    Monica Gabriela Rais (21 years old) suffers from paraplegia and mental retardation. Her mother gave birth to Monica while working in the tobacco farms at the age of 15.

  • 25-09-2015, Firmat, Santa Fe Province
    Edgar Fontanellaz and his family live in Firmat, a little village where all fields are cultivated with GMO soybean. Edgar denounced 30 times to the authorities the multiple fumigations his family was exposed to. He was threaten and shot twice.
    Both his sons suffer from hearing loss and Edgar thinks that this is due to the multiple exposure to agrochemicals.

  • 22-12-2016, Concordia, province of Entre Rios.
    Mario Lovatto (33) worked from 8 to 33 years as a harvester and fumigator in citrus plantations and then blueberries.
    Lipomatosis multiple. It has about 100 lipomas in its body. He has 5 children: Mario (9) was diagnosed with TGD, Eric (4) lost a kidney and Maylen (2 months) had heart disease.

  • 1-12- 2014. Roque Sáenz Peña, Province of Chaco.
    Twins Aldo and Maximiliano Barrios and their mother Elena Alderete playing on their home street. Both children suffer from a severe congenital microcephaly, one of the illnesses associated with the use of agrochemical in transgenic agriculture. The Barrios twins attend one of the many facilities for disabled people, that are increasing in number considerably year after year.

  • 15/04/2015, Colonia Alicia, Misiones Argentina.
    Dario Gotin has three children.
    Andrea was a healthy girl Gotin until one afternoon, when she was eight years old,
    she inhaled bromomethane and had to be hospitalized and stayed nine days in intensive
    care. The fever she ran a few hours after inhaling the substance Affected the engine
    of her brain function. She needs a kidney transplant and has to undergo dialysis
    three times a week. Her brother Ademir (20) Mental Suffers severe disability.

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