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By Open Letter Chaco
From time to time the debate on the use of chemicals and especially agrochemicals, associated with crops that use direct sowing, particularly soybeans, corn and rice, among others, is repeated, and is not settled, which subject the soil to great wear and tear and finally the degree of contamination or poisoning of people, plants, animals and waterways is questioned. Open Letter: Health and Environment Commission.
From time to time the debate on the use of chemicals and especially agrochemicals, associated with crops that use direct sowing, particularly soybeans, corn and rice, among others, is repeated, and is not settled, which subject the soil to great wear and tear and finally the degree of contamination or poisoning of people, plants, animals and waterways is questioned. Let us take a witness case to analyze, which can eloquently illustrate, the responsibility of the companies that are habitually associated with the harmful use of agrochemicals and of which we will summarize its history: the great North American company Monsanto.
A world famous case
In the 1960s, a group of companies, including Monsanto, were contracted by the US government to produce a herbicide called Agent Orange used in the Vietnam War to destroy vegetation and crops, so that the Vietnamese could neither hide nor feed themselves, violating the 1925 protocol that formed the international law in force, which caused more than 400,000 deaths and some 500,000 births of children with malformations, in addition to the casualties in the US army itself, which due to The current legislation is inhibited from suing their government and they have tried to sue chemical companies, who initially manufactured Agent Orange as a herbicide for agronomic and non-warlike use.
In 1984, it was agreed that Monsanto and 6 American chemical companies would pay $ 180 million to 291,000 Americans over a 12-year period. The payment was agreed as an alibi after Judge Weinstein persuaded the companies to avoid longer litigation and war crimes guilt as part of the lawsuit. Despite the fact that the malformations of babies persist after three generations, so far, the demands of the affected Vietnamese have not been successful. (one)
Monsanto is also responsible for the production of the synthetic hormone bovine somatotropin (or recombinant rGHB). There are scientific studies that tried to prove that the hormone causes significant changes in the biology of cows, and of the milk that they produce, which can be marketed in several countries, although not in Argentina, and is prohibited in Canada and the European Union because they claim that the hormone can harm human health. Consumer protection groups in the United States managed to label only the milk from untreated cows, not treated as it should be, applying a little wisdom, after long struggles over Monsanto's policies, with the condition of adding in the label contains information obtained by scientists from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who concluded that "milk from cows not treated with rGHB does not show significant differences from milk from treated cows." (2)
In 1935, Monsanto took over the company that had been marketing Polybiphenylchloride (PCB) since 1927. In its time, PCB was a useful product that had great biological and chemical thermal stability, as well as a high dielectric constant and, among other uses It was used to cool low-voltage electrical transformers on public roads. Its use was banned from 1970, as it was discovered that it was highly carcinogenic and in our country and in our province, there are transformers with this refrigerant to this day. Although it was aware of the high polluting power of PCBs, Monsanto hid it for some years, even within the United States, causing irreversible damage to people, soils, waters and animals around the world. (3)
Monsanto's current flagship product, glyphosate, with the trade name “Roundup”, is associated with agricultural production around the world, such as transgenic soy, which is also produced here in Argentina. For this product, Monsanto lost two lawsuits, one in the US and one in the European Union due to misleading advertising, by stating that it was biodegradable on its packaging (4). Two studies conducted by the Center national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), France's leading research institution, in 2004 and 2005 showed that the active compound in the herbicide Roundup was linked to cancer causing cell cycle dysregulations . The concentrations used in cultivation fields are between 500 and 4000 times higher than the concentration necessary to cause alterations in the cell cycle (5).
Global food production is in charge of a handful of powerful multinationals that apply genetic engineering, with which genes are manipulated from seeds to increase productivity and make them resistant to some herbicides, which result in transgenic foods, which are now commercialized. freely and will have unpredictable consequences in the coming years for human health.
Among these multinationals is Monsanto, which genetically manipulates seeds to, among other things, make them resistant to Roundup, which are destined for the production of transgenic foods. Monsanto says that its consumption is not harmful to health.
Do we have to believe him? Will there be surprises like with the use of the PCB? What do you think our governments should do with Monsanto's policies? Do we passively accept the actions of this capitalist production system? Why don't the employers of the field say anything about it?
CONICET should be responsible for scientifically investigating the consequences of the use of herbicides on our crops, particularly Roundup, which is widely used in our fields. One of the 2006 research programs, published on the CONICET website (6), is explicitly titled: "MONSANTO-CONICET Technological Development Promotion Program". In case there are any doubts, it is detailed that the counterpart - sponsor for its execution is Monsanto Argentina S.A.I.C. Will there be objective results from this study? Let's see. In 2008, a CONICET study, carried out by the Molecular Embryology Laboratory, confirmed that glyphosate is highly toxic and affects the health of humans and animals. In humans "it causes intestinal and cardiac disorders, malformations and neuronal alterations." In Ituzaingó (Córdoba) more than 300 cases of cancer associated with the use of this agrochemical were reported. The author researcher, Dr. Andrés Carrasco, of this work was transferred, by chance? to the Ministry of Defense of the Nation in 2009. (7) (8)
Chaco case: La Leonesa-Las Palmas rice cooker
Given the seriousness of the numerous complaints from self-summoned neighbors, Non-Governmental Organizations and Institutions of public good of La Leonesa and Las Palmas, the National Commission for Investigations by Agrochemicals of the Ministry of Public Health of the Nation was established in March 2009, by Order of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner by Decree 09/21, which was in charge of technicians with long and recognized experience in the Ministry of Public Health. (9)
The complaints refer to the appearance of unknown diseases so far as "naturally induced abortions, malformations in newborns, allergies in the respiratory tract, skin rashes and various types of cancers, among others, which in many cases have led to death "and the" suspicion that the causes of these diseases are a consequence of insufficient control of deforestation in our area, which is degrading our soil; aerial fumigations with polluting products carried out by rice companies in the populated area called La Ralera neighborhood ”.
The conclusions of the work of said National Commission were conclusive:
1. Rice farms are in a process of expansion that in some cases have redirected water courses and have brought production to the edges of urban areas.
2. Community complaints are justified: clear evidence of the impact of pesticides is recognized where as a limit there are fences without tree curtains.
3. The impact on human health, "in no way can be ruled out."
4. The high water requirements of rice production, with irrigation and drainage routes in a landscape naturally rich in water courses of various importance with numerous natural interconnections and others produced by man, pose significant risks to the communities settled in these areas. territories.
The recommendations were also very clear:
1. Land use planning must pay attention to the settled population and ensure that any economic development process respects their right to a safe habitat.
2. In this order, clear rules of the game must be established and adequately controlled. For example, require arboreal curtains in the fields for cultivation that require the use of agrochemicals, and prevent the aerial dispersion of agrochemicals in a radius of not less than 5,000 meters from any inhabited place, be it urban or rural.
3. Extreme precautionary measures for the quality of water courses and maintain a surveillance system that ensures that polluted waters are not returned to free courses.
4. Carry out an epidemiological evaluation to evaluate the sanitary conditions of the population of Las Palmas, La Leonesa and of the rural inhabitants of the surroundings of both rice farms.
5. Accelerate the necessary procedures to be able to apply Law No. 26,331 on Minimum Budgets for the Environmental Protection of Native Forests in Chaco.
The measurements of the three powers of the Chaco
The provincial Executive Power became aware of that report from the National Commission, in March 2009, through the Ministry of Economy, Production and Employment, as it is the enforcement authority of the Biocides Law. In April 2009, by means of file E2-2009-3283-A of the Ministry of Public Health, it intervened on the problem in the localities near the rice farms, for which a provincial work commission was also constituted where they were carried out eye surveys and interviews with affected neighbors, which reflect the reality of what is happening. The Environmental Health Directorate, the Bromatology Directorate, who recommended the intervention of the Epidemiology Directorate and the Statistics Directorate of the Ministry of Health, the Undersecretary of the Environment, the Provincial Administration of Water and the Undersecretariat of Agriculture took part in this process. . In successive months, the Ministry of Government and the new authorities of the Ministry of Public Health, and the new authorities of the Ministry of Production became aware.
Decree No. 2655/09 of December 2009, the Governor created the Commission for the Investigation of Water Contaminants, at the request of the Ministry of Public Health of the Province.
The Legislative Branch of the province has a brief and contradictory history:
In 1988, the Biocides Law No. 3378 was enacted, which establishes the rules, and sets the Ministry of Economy, Production and Employment as an enforcement body, through the Undersecretariat of Agriculture, today within the Ministry of Production. , and is in full force.
In January 1996, Law No. 4,243 (enacted in December 1995) was enacted, which granted the lands belonging to the former Las Palmas Sugar Mill, in the town of La Leonesa (Bermejo Department, Circuit IV, Parcel 311) to the representative organizations and rural residents of the Ingenio's area of influence (Authors: Deputies PJ, Jorge Belzor Miño, María Inés Fioravanti, Jorge Damilano, Atilio Velázquez, Elsa González)
Despite the conclusions and recommendations of the Commission of the Ministry of Health of the Nation of March 2008, in June of the same year, at the initiative of Deputy Elda Insaurralde (PJ), Law No. 6,145 was sanctioned, which It grants the same plot, of approximately 200 ha, to the Association of Rice Producers, in a totally irregular manner since said entity, at that time, did not have legal status to carry out alleged investigations on rice cultivation.
In December 2009, Law N ° 6,455, of the deputy Alicia Terada (ARI) was sanctioned, by which Law N ° 6,145 is repealed, trying to amend that aberration.
In December 2009, the Executive Power, inexplicably through the Governor, vetoed the law, leaving the previous Law, No. 6,145, in full force, with the irregular granting of land that expanded the borders of rice exploitation and is poisoning the inhabitants of La Leonesa and Las Palmas, leaving landless and exposed to eviction small producers residing in that parcel, who are not members of the Association of Rice Producers.
The judicial power
Despite the numerous complaints, in the federal and provincial courts, regarding the numerous violations of federal laws, the provincial Biocide Law, and the numerous evidences of diseases, abortions, malformations and deaths, it has not issued any failure to stop the intensive application of agro-toxins in the La Leonesa Las Palmas rice factory.
The case of the La Leonesa-Las Palmas rice factory is only a witness case that has had repercussions due to the mobilization of its neighbors. However, there are numerous complaints dating from 2003, in Gancedo, Napenay, Santa Sylvina, Tres Isletas, Avia Terai and Colonia Elisa, which show that there is a serious provincial problem with unpredictable consequences on public health, since the application Of agro-toxins such as Roundup, it has been used intensively a few years ago, but scientific studies and empirical observations, due to not having a reliable statistical system, are more than evident and conclusive.
The consequences on large cities are also worrisome, because there are numerous cases of childhood cancer in the metropolitan area, which, according to professionals from the pediatric referral hospitals in Buenos Aires, the proportion of cases in the Chaco is disproportionate, to say the least. for more in-depth studies and statistics. Suffice it to mention that the intake of contaminated pastures by cattle is producing contaminated meat and milk that are then supplied to the population.
With all these antecedents, the flights over the plantations continue to happen on a daily basis, like post-modern bombers leaving their deadly cargo to spread over our soils, waters and food.
It is necessary that the economic profitability of a few, with an activity that uses very little labor, does not take the lives of thousands of Chaco people.
For all the above, we want to request urgent action from the State to:
1. Suspend, by Executive Power Decree, immediately, the fumigation of agricultural establishments less than 5,000 meters from urban areas.
2. Ratify Law 6,455, by the Legislative Power.
3. Request the Ministry of Production of the Province, the immediate creation of a commission to monitor the application of the Biocides Law No. 3,378 and the application of policies that replace the current production system, with other systems that produce food organic, free of agro-toxins.
4. Request the Ministry of Public Health to create an efficient public statistics system that allows for exhaustive monitoring, particularly of diseases presumed to be associated with pesticides.
5. Request the Judicial Power, given the seriousness of the situation, to reverse the burden of proof, and suspend the application of agro-toxins, until it is proven that they do not affect public health.
6. Request a hearing from the Governor of the Province, the Chamber of Deputies and the Superior Court of Justice.
Resistencia, January 2010.
Argentina - Chaco.
CHACO newspaper DAY BY DAY
4. US EPA Communications and Public Affairs 1991 Press Advisory. EPA lists crops associated with pesticides for which residue and environmental fate studies were allegedly manipulated. Washington DC Mar 29