By Graciela Cristina Gómez
Every year in the world about 3 million people are poisoned by the use of pesticides. The epidemiological surveillance program of the Ministries of Health and the Pan American Health Organization in 7 Central American countries estimates that each year 400,000 people are poisoned by pesticides.
"If I knew that the world would end tomorrow, I would still plant a tree today."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Twenty years after the Bophal disaster, India, more than 100,000 people are currently suffering from chronic diseases attributable to pollution caused by the leak.
This date was established by the organization PAN International (Pesticide Action Network), to remember the more than 16,000 people who died in the incident that occurred in 1984 due to the escape of 40 tons of the toxic gas methyl isocyanate, a chemical used in the production of a pesticide Union Carbide Corporation, acquired in 2001 by Dow Chemical. Only in the first three days 8,000 people died. (one)
In 2000, the Eveready factory, belonging to the same company (Unión Carbide Argentina), was accused of clandestinely burying alkaline batteries not suitable for commercialization. The toxic waste deposit was located on a property located at kilometer 752 of Route 9, in the city of Jesús María, province of Córdoba. The plant operated there between 1965 and 1987, but since 1994 the Brazilian company Iochpe Maxion has been based there. This firm agreed with Eveready, today under license from the company Ralston Purina Argentina S. A., to clean up the land and transfer the toxic materials. The Ailinco company began removing industrial waste at the end of September to transport it in trucks supposedly conditioned to a burial or treatment site located in Zárate, Buenos Aires. (2)
Every year in the world about 3 million people are poisoned by the use of pesticides.
More than 220 thousand die per year. This means 660 deaths per day, 25 deaths per hour.
The epidemiological surveillance program of the Ministries of Health and the Pan American Health Organization in 7 Central American countries estimates that each year 400,000 people are poisoned by pesticides.
The United Nations considers that the poisoning rate in southern countries could be 13 times higher than in industrialized countries, which is why it declared pesticides as one of the biggest problems in the world. By 1991 it was estimated that 25 million agricultural workers would suffer an episode of pesticide poisoning and that these would be responsible for 437,000 cases of cancer and 400,000 involuntary deaths. (3)
From the field of war, to the field sown:
“The pesticides were not invented for agriculture and were not requested by farmers, they are a product of war. And today when we see the problems caused by pesticides, we have to say the true name: Poison - Chemical Weapon - Agrotoxic.
In World War I Germany was blockaded and the Allies prohibited the importation of Chilean nitrate and other nitrogen fertilizers that could be used in the manufacture of explosives. When the war ended the Germans had a huge stock of nitrates, which no one wanted anymore. The chemical industry recycled them and imposed them on the farmer. This is how nitrogenous fertilizers were born. Agriculture was a kind of garbage dump for the war industry.
As a product of war they were created to kill man, to destroy his plantations, not to benefit humanity. When the first atomic bomb exploded in the summer of 1945, an American ship was traveling towards Japan with a cargo of phytocides, then declared as LN 8 and LN 14, enough to destroy 30% of the crops. Later, in the Vietnam War, these same poisons, by other names such as "Agent Orange," served to destroy tens of thousands of square kilometers of forests and crops.
Also DDT, used to kill insects, emerged in war. To fight malaria. After the war, agriculture again served to channel the enormous amounts stored and to keep the large production capacities that had been assembled running. (4)
More than 500,000 tons of obsolete, banned or expired pesticides accumulate in almost all developing and transition countries, posing a serious threat to the health of millions of people and to the environment. "(5)
Nicaragua: In a mill, 986 people have died due to the effects of the agro-toxic Nemagón for the Nicaraguan National Assembly to begin to move.
The results are dramatic. According to calculations, 1,383 workers have died and in recent years there is an average of 46 deaths per month. (6)
Argentina: In Misiones, 5 out of every 1000 children are born affected by Meliomelingocele, a malformation of the central nervous system. In Misiones, it is estimated that about 13% of its population has a disability , "When we see what budget Monsanto has for Latin America, which has its large agency here in Posadas, 30 billion dollars are invested in pesticides so that a few are very rich and so that all the rest are disabled".(7)
See also the reports by province of the Rural Reflection Group, the report "Pachamama" (Ecos de Romang) and "The derivations of the Portillo case" (newspaper El Día, Gualeguaychú), among others, which generate shame and impotence in our country.
Paraguay: It is the third largest exporter and fourth world producer of soybeans. 85% of the seeds planted belong to Monsanto. The Ministry of Health registered 430 cases of poisoning and death between 1999 and 2000.
In this context, perhaps the most resonant case in Paraguay is the death of the child Silvino Talavera, which occurred in January 2003, which gave rise to the first trial of producers, sentenced to only 2 years in prison. The International Labor Organization (ILO) indicates that of a total of 3 and 5 million cases per year of affected farmers, 40,000 die from acute poisoning. (8)
Uruguay: The director of the National Cancer Registry of the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. J. A. Vasallo, in his 1989 book Cancer in Uruguay, states that there has been an increase of 64% in the last 30 years. (9)
Brazil: The transgenic contamination of Cataratas is verified! A study carried out by the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Resources (IBAMA) in the Iguaçu Park confirmed that the transgenic soybean crops that are abundant in its area of influence are the cause of the genetic contamination of various plant species. The cultivation of soybeans in the protected area of the park is prohibited by law. (10)
In the first semester of 2004, China seized a shipment of soybeans from Brazil, which had contamination with Carboxin and Captan fungicides. This procedure, according to environmentalists, is common in exports to poor countries, when part of the commercial cargo is filled with contaminated grains. Given China's rejection of the contaminated product, it is believed that soybeans have been acquired by countries with less power to impose trade restrictions, such as Indonesia. However, this same batch with similar levels of contamination could also be on the Brazilian table. (eleven)
Colombia: It is very difficult to calculate poisonings in Colombia and Latin America because most cases are not registered. The authorities underestimate the complaints, as occurs with thousands of poisonings due to aerial spraying of Roundup (glyphosate) in areas of illicit crops in Colombia, in concentrations much higher than those authorized for agricultural use.
It is worth remembering the one that occurred in 1967 in Chiquinquirá (Boyacá), Colombia, which involved more than 500 people, of which 165 required hospital treatment and 63 died. Dozens of children were poisoned and died when they ate bread made from wheat flour contaminated with Folidol (paration) for breakfast.
Peru: the Tauccamarca tragedy, which occurred in October 1999, where 24 children were poisoned and killed after eating food contaminated with Parathion, a pesticide produced by the multinational Bayer, 24 children died in the Cusco community after having consumed the school breakfast. Death was almost instantaneous, in the midst of the most excruciating pain. Another 22 children survived, but their nervous systems may have been seriously damaged. (12)
Deaths caused by Syngenta's paraquat herbicide (Gramoxone) in the world are estimated in the thousands. Paraquat has been blamed for numerous health problems in the countries where it is used. Malaysia is one of 13 countries that have banned it, but there are 120 that continue to use it. Instead, the EU has approved it. (13)
In Costa Rica since 1980 and for two decades it has been reported as the leading cause of poisonings and responsible for a third of the deaths of hundreds of agricultural workers. There is no known antidote or effective treatment to control paraquat poisoning.
An estimated 85% of unregistered cases were reported; in 2000, 752 people intoxicated by pesticides were reported, of which 12 were fatal cases. (14)
In a recent investigation on bottled water in India, it showed high levels of lindane, among other pesticides such as DDT and highly toxic malathion, and for this reason a campaign was also unleashed against Coca-Cola for selling its contaminated coke. This in Great Britain was nothing new, after having accused the same company that its Dasani mineral water had twice as much bromate as allowed, and that it was not drinkable but, taken from the tap, since that date, that bottled water is all the rage in Argentina (15)
Chile: Lindane, despite being banned since 1998 by the Ministry of Agriculture for agricultural use due to its serious effects on human health, continues to be applied to the heads of children to combat pediculosis. Far from eradicating the evil, this pesticide has generated resistance and pediculosis has become endemic, according to the authorities of the Ministry of Health. "(16)
Mexico: Cancer rates in Mexico have increased since 1989, it was registered as the second cause of death in the country. That year there were 40,628 deaths (48.2 per 100,000 inhabitants). Interestingly, in the city of Comitán, where many pigs are raised, and in the Costa de Chiapas region, the high rate of people with stomach cancer places the city in the first place worldwide in this disease. Lindane is widely used in the region to kill lice and attack pig scabies. It is also used as a powder that is applied to corn in order to lodge it and prevent moths from entering or so that weevils do not bite the beans. In this border region, constant fumigations have been carried out for years on plantations of indigenous communities that also spray houses, domestic animals, cornfields and coffee plantations. Much of the bee population has been eliminated and with it the honey producers. And it is that lindane also highly pollutes soils, rivers, wells, lagoons and groundwater.
In the Altos Zone, the lindado is also frequently used by the promoters of the Ministry of Health for the application in boys and girls up to four months old to combat hair lice. Lindane has been classified by IARC as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) as a possible human carcinogen.
For agricultural use, there are three companies that sell Lindane: Agromundo, Ingeniería Industrial and Industrias Gustaffson. It should be noted that the latter was bought in 2004 by the multinational Bayer - a true expert in planetary poisoning - and sells Lindane under the name Germate Plus. Bayer had also bought, in 2001, the company Aventis Crop Science, a merger of Laboratorios Helios, AgrEvo and Rhone Poulenc. In addition to spraying the indigenous people of Chiapas with Baygon. (17)
The Anaversa company, in Córdoba, Veracruz, in May 1991, has caused numerous deaths from cancer and chronic effects in the population; The site was never cleaned up and the victims were never compensated, although the company collected accident insurance. A second case is that of the pesticide formulation company Artivi, in Juchitepec, State of Mexico, and a third case is that of Tekchem, in Salamanca, Guanajuato, which produced persistent organochlorine insecticides for decades, which created health problems and environmental pollution. . In its facilities, the company conserves 84 thousand tons of organochlorine waste left by Fertimex plus 45 thousand tons of contaminated sulfur. These and other substances are found in the open. (18)
The factories of horror:
DUPONT: During the Civil War in the USA it supplied half of the gunpowder used by the Union army, also dynamite. He remained a supplier to the US Army in both WWI and WWII, also assisting in the Manhattan Project, being responsible for the plutonium production plant at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
DuPont was, together with General Motors, the inventor of CFCs (substances that are harmful to the ozone layer). In a report submitted by Saddam Hussein to the United Nations prior to the invasion of Iraq, it was revealed that DuPont had participated in the development of the Iraqi nuclear program. An investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency accused DuPont of hiding the effects of C-8 (a product used in obtaining Teflon). Several studies suggest that the cumulative effect of this material is carcinogenic, in addition to being able to cause malformations in pregnancy.
BASF: BASF is the largest chemical company in the world. Of German origin, it comprises more than 160 subsidiaries and has more than 150 production plants around the globe. Among its products is aniline, with carcinogenic effects for animals and humans.
IG Farben was founded in 1925 from the merger of BASF, Agfa and Hoechst. IG Farben was the only German company with its own concentration camp, where at least 30,000 people died, and many more were sent to the gas chambers. IG Farben built a large plant at Auschwitz, with a work force close to 300,000 slaves.
The Zyklon B gas that was used in the death chambers was manufactured by Degesch, a subsidiary of IG Farben, with this poison millions of Jews, Gypsies and Soviets were executed.
After the Second World War, the allied nations, during the Nuremberg Trials, ordered the dismemberment of the consortium.
The successor companies of IG Farben at present are Bayer, BASF and Hoechst, which inherited all the properties of IG Farben but not the criminal responsibilities.
Currently, BASF has launched an advertising campaign promoting the pesticide under the trade name "Opera", which is a fungicide - a poison for fungi - used in soybean monocultures to control end-of-cycle diseases, in particular "Asian rust. ”. The advertisement shows us a smiling boy, with a small plant in his hand and with an extensive soy plantation in the background. The image is accompanied by the phrase "BASF innovation is here to improve your quality of life." The idyllicness of the image is far from the reality that soy cultivation and its associated technological package represent for our countryside and its inhabitants.
BAYER: produced until World War I a drug called diacetylmorphine, an addictive drug, originally sold as a cough treatment, which was later renamed Heroin. Heroin was a trademark of Bayer, until it was banned before World War I.
From 1925 to 1951, Bayer became part of IG Farben, a conglomerate of the German chemical industries that formed the financial base of the Nazi regime. Dr. Fritz ter Meer, sentenced to seven years in prison for war crimes by the Nuremberg tribunal, was made a Supervisory Director of Bayer in 1956, after his release. They are also responsible for creating chemical agents such as: Mustard gas (chemical weapon) and Tabun (nerve gas) (19)
SYNGENTA: killer pesticide and “Terminator” seeds: Paraquat is sold in more than one hundred countries under the generic name of “Gramoxone”, it represents an important part of the profits of the transnational based in Basel - which in 2006 had net profits declared close to at $ 900 million - and "has caused thousands of deaths."
Born in 2000 from the merger of the agrochemical divisions of Swiss Novartis and the Anglo-Swedish consortium AstraZeneca- Gramoxone continues to be sold worldwide and its expansion does not stop, as evidenced by the new facilities that the company opened in China .
In May of this year, various organizations in Asia, Africa and Europe filed a complaint against Syngenta with FAO. The company does not respect its article 3.5 that calls to avoid certain extremely toxic pesticides. Last July the European Court of Justice also ruled against this product.
Plants of the "Terminator" type produce sterile seeds that do not yield more than a single crop. The peasants cannot reoccupy them for planting. According to the March 2006 complaint by Swiss organizations, "the sole objective of this technology is to dominate the seed market and ensure control of world food ... which implies a violation of the human right to food." (20) In Brazil, an armed militia attacked peasants in an "experimental field" of the multinational Syngenta located in western Santa Teresa. This field was occupied and denounced by the peasants, but at 1:30 pm on Sunday, October 21, they were attacked. A member of the Via Campesina, Valmir Motta, 32 years old, father of 3 children, was executed with two shots to the chest. Six other rural workers were severely injured. (twenty-one)
MONSANTO: Accused of polluting the town of Times Beach, the waters of the town Anniston, creator of Aspartame (Nutrasweet) brain-tonic sweeteners, not satisfied with it, supplies caffeine to Coca Cola.
For its glyphosate Round Up, it was condemned as it was shown to be potentially carcinogenic and disruptive to the endocrine system, and to "cause long-term harmful effects on the environment. (22)
Today its “transgenic corn”, approved for human consumption by the EU, two of its hybrids that were put to the vote include the genetic modification Nk603, was recently analyzed by the French institute CRIIGEN, which found clear signs of toxicity in the data provided by the manufacturing company, the multinational Monsanto.
The third of the approved corns, known as Herculex, has been repeatedly denounced because tests by the manufacturing companies, Pionner and Dow, revealed signs of toxicity that require further investigation.
Friends of the Earth, COAG and Greenpeace have repeatedly denounced the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) for not demanding more research before giving the go-ahead to new GMOs and for not taking into account the evidence about their harmful effects "since As long as there is no radical improvement in the risk assessment of GMOs, the authorization processes should be suspended. (2. 3)
In India, the Ministry of Agriculture acknowledges that 100,000 peasant suicides occurred between 1993 and 2003. And between 2003 and 2006 (October) there have been about 16 thousand suicides each year. In total, between 1993 and 2006 there were around 150 thousand suicides, 30 daily for 13 years! Thousands of peasants whose way of life has been destroyed have resorted to suicide as the only escape.
They turned to Monsanto cotton seeking to reduce the cost of pesticides, the debt trap fell on them more quickly because Monsanto's cotton seeds are even more expensive. (24)
The denied debate and the silence of the press
This is one of the main conclusions of a meticulous investigation carried out by the Media Observatory of the Mercosur Journalistic Agency (APM), of the Faculty of Journalism and Social Communication of the National University of La Plata (UNLP), of Argentina. This investigation uncovers the manipulative techniques of the hegemonic press.
A measurement by the APM Media Observatory found that the main economic newspapers in Buenos Aires promote the program that turns food into gasoline for the rich. (25)
The press and governments refuse a debate on these issues, denying and hiding information, when precisely, raising awareness among the population would prevent so many deaths and there would be better management and prevention of pesticides.
- We saw on television days ago, a shameful program of "A world of low consumption", applauding biofuels, showing Yankee culture, and "hybrid" cars, only accessible to Bill Gates. Why was it not made in Paraguay, in Brazil or in Santa Fe showing the ravages of soy? Let's see if they give us oil from French fries in Puerto Madero for the car, get in line, you're lucky ...
- The same channel raises a note to be made with members of Acción Ecológica on mining, within hours of being done, probably due to pressure. (26)
- The Court of the province of Catamarca annuls a plebiscite on a YES or a NO to the installation of an open pit uranium mine, hiding itself in article 124 of our National Constitution, without taking into account that article 41, is in “ Rights and Guarantees ”of our Constitution, if they did not realize it, and that the people are the sovereign and they only a number, a gnocchi, a mere representative of that sovereign. (27)
- Children born with malformations in Santa Fe and Misiones never had an article in any Buenos Aires newspaper, some local newspapers and environmentalist websites fight alone, exposing these issues and showing the world, with fear, repeating the news over and over again again ... while Argentina: shut up.
The miracle of soy, according to some people from Raphael who we heard, ashamed of being from Santa Fe, in a University of Tres de Febrero, Buenos Aires, speaking of art, they thank soy ... for art!
Toast with Round Up, gentlemen… ..When pesticides kill every last bird in the mountains that we still have, they will not thank Monsanto, or Bayer, or Syngenta and company. Because being in the holocaust and not realizing it is already being dead while alive.
* Graciela Cristina Gómez is a Lawyer (UBA) and a Notary Public (UNR)
1-Rebellion "December 3, Day of the non-use of pesticides"
2- www.funam.org.ar: "They remove toxic waste buried clandestinely by Eveready in Córdoba."
3- www.rel-uita.org "December 3, Day of the non-use of pesticides"
4- www.rel-uita.org "Agro-toxins from the war on agriculture"
5- www.Eco2site.com "New code for pesticides"
6- www.nodo50.org "The drama of Nicaraguan farmers affected by the pesticide nemagón"
7- "Malformations in Misiones due to the use of pesticides"
8- www.lineacapital.com.ar "Five out of every thousand missionary children suffer from malformations due to pesticides"
9- www.ecocomunidad.org.uy "Pesticides even in the soup"
10- Real world radio "Brazil: they verify transgenic contamination in Iguaçu Park"
12- www.rel-uita.org "December 3, Day of the non-use of pesticides"
13- "Syngenta: Agrochemical Contamination"
14- www.agroecologia.es "December 3, Day of the non-use of pesticides"
16- El clarín Chile newspaper
17- “Another threat, Lindano. Children in danger "
18- Greenpeace "On the anniversary of the Bhopal accident, they repudiate the use of pesticides"
20- www.paginadigital.com.ar: "The Swiss transnational Syngenta in the sight"
21- Anred org "Brazil: Syngenta armed militias attack peasants"
22-Echoes of romang: "Doctor, shout it louder!"
23- www.amigosdelatierra.org "Ecologists and farmers denounce that the EU will approve three potentially dangerous GMOs with the favorable vote of Spain"
25- Biodiversidala. ”The silence of the Argentine press: why don't they debate on Agrofuels?
26- www.bolsonweb.com.ar "Channel 13 cancels a note with an ecologist from Chubut"
27- Page 12: "The popular consultation on mining that was prevented by the Justice"