Argentines link health problems to agrochemicals

Argentines link health problems to agrochemicals

Agrochemicals Poison Argentina Food Supply

American biotechnology has twisted Argentina into the planet’s third-largest soybean grower. The chemicals driving the explosion aren’t limited to soy, cotton, and corn.

The AP has documented cases through the nation where toxins are used in unacceptable — and unanticipated — ways. The pesticides are also being used in proximity to homes and schools and water sources. Farmworkers are required to blend poisons without protective gear and village residents  stash water in containers which used to contain pesticide but were never destroyed as required.

Physicians are warning the uncontrolled applications may be behind the burgeoning health woes amid the twelve million persons living in the South American country’s farm belt.

Santa Fe Cancer

In Santa Fe province, cancer rates are up to four times higher than the national average. Chaco has seen congenital disabilities quadruple in the ten years following the expansion of biotechnology in Argentine farming.

“The difference in agriculture reflects a shift in the diseases we’re seeing,” said Dr. Medardo Vazquez, a baby doctor. “We’ve foregone a healthy population for one with increased rates of carcinomas, birth deformities, and diseases we’ve seldom seen.”
Grass-Fed Beef and GMO

Argentina once enjoyed a global reputation for its grass-fed beef. That started changing in 1996 when Missouri-based Monsanto promised increased crop yields and lower pesticide rates if farmers adopted its patented seeds and chemicals. In 2017, Argentina’s soy crop is entirely modified genetically. Nearly all of the country’s corn and cotton are GMO.

Initially, agrochemical use declined before bouncing back. In 1990 9 million gallons were used. Today over 85 million gallons are sprayed as farmers squeeze in more harvests and pests build up resistance. Per acre, Argentine farmers use an estimated 4.4 pounds of agrochemical concentrate per acre. That’s more than double what American farmers use.

Dr. Maria Seveso has spent 35 years managing ICU wards in Chaco. Dr. Seveso became dismayed at birth reports reflecting an increase of birth defects four times what was expected. Intent on finding the cause, she and co-workers surveyed over 2,000 individuals in five towns and villages in Chaco. They found more illnesses and anomalies in villages with nearby industrialized agriculture than those encompassed by ranches.

Visiting some of the farming villages, Dr. Seveso found chemicals in places they were never meant to be.

Claudia Sariski, whose house has no running water, doesn’t let her twins drink from the discarded poison containers in which she stores water. She allows her chickens to, and she uses the stored water to wash the family’s clothes. Aixa, Sariski’s five-year-old, has hairy moles covering her body. Her neighbor and playmate, 2-year old Camila Veron was born with various organ problems and is significantly disabled. Seveso believes the agrochemicals are to blame.


Impossible to Prove

It’s almost improbable to establish a specific chemical caused a specific person’s cancer or childbirth defect. Like other physicians, Seveso believes her conclusions should cause a government probe. Instead, their 70-page report has been shelved by Chaco’s health ministry.

“There are pieces that aren’t exposed to review. Things that people don’t listen to,” Seveso.

Scientists agree that only wider, and long-term research can rule out agrochemicals as the trigger of the illnesses.