The Argentine environmental lawyer and writer Graciela Cristina Gómez is one of the most qualified activists when the issue in question is the indiscriminate use of pesticides, mainly with regard to the use of glyphosate. In an interview with Adital, she talks about the situation in Argentina, a country where environmental movements sponsor an arduous fight against the damage caused by substances that are harmful to human health and the environment as a whole.
Adital- When the issue is the indiscriminate use of pesticides, Argentina is one of the countries that least abides by environmental considerations on the damage caused by these substances. Against this background, we imagine that the struggle of environmental lawyers and the environmental movements themselves goes against the interests of powerful companies, such as Monsanto. An unfair fight. We would like you to talk a bit about it.
Graciela Cristina Gomez - Indeed, colleague Mariano Aguilar, translates it as "David against Goliath", they are very confident of their strength, that is their mistake. We will not use a sling, but the empirical reality, the cascading effect of thousands of complaints, and the denial of the evidence that can no longer be hidden from society, will make it fall under its own weight. Pretending to cover the sun with one hand is what organisms such as Senasa, Aapresid or Casafe demonstrate.
We care very little about their interests, the interests of politicians, legislators, ministers who should resign or secretaries minimizing the issue, wanting to "include" what is actually "excluding health" on this issue or, glaciers or open-pit mining. They act as mercenaries and many of them are part of the media monopoly, at the service of the multinational. It is a shame that a Health Commission of Deputies does not know what is happening, we pay those inept for their diet, they should resign, because being doctors many of them are accomplices, otherwise it is not understood that they do not act.
Adital - At what level is there the collusion of these projects linked to transgenic soy with the government bodies? Are there many complaints about the complicity of the Argentine authorities?
Graciela Cristina Gomez - It is at all levels, there are scientists, doctors, universities, politicians, journalists, and parasites entrenched in the same state, attacking us and pressuring us in one way or another, to silence us, minimizing or treating the thousands of children with malformations in isolated cases, cancer, respiratory diseases, allergies and an innumerable list of pathologies reported by Doctors Gomez Demaio, Paramo, Lucero, Gianfelici and rural doctors from each province.
Even the College of Agricultural Engineers denounced 100 cases of births with malformations per year in Santiago del Estero, while other collegiate members, aviation experts, producers and organizations that see their status quo affected, through "tightening" and all kinds of subliminal messages, or applying the censorship aim to blind the information we provide, intimidating our actions. Without succeeding, of course.
It is outrageous to see officials and politicians traveling to congresses, accepting an "all inclusive" from Acsoja, attending their meetings at the Stock Exchanges or Rural Societies, deciding with them the legislation to be applied or to be reformed behind the people's backs, which will never be the beneficiary of those traces. We live the worst cases in Santa Fe, it is embarrassing to hear how they relativize the issue, they do not want to listen and they attack us for informing. The press in its complicity, only publishes the circus of politicians fighting each other, and idolize soy in an obscene way.
Adital - Information shows that in the next season around 18 million hectares will be planted with transgenic soybeans. I mean, more glyphosate. How are the processes for the prohibition of this substance in the country?
Graciela Cristina Gomez - In "stand by", it sounds better than "cajoneada". A secretary of the environment, who should have already resigned, thinks before the project that "if something is prohibited it must be for a purpose", we replied that that purpose is the health of the Argentine people, avoiding a future of idiotic children, as denounced by the Dr Gomez Dimaio, but his only concern is "that it does not affect the country economically" as he expressed in the media
On the other hand, from my province they are horrified by the data we provide to the media, when the government, deputies and doctors should not at this stage of the issue, ignore the percentages of patients in Santa Fe. They are more concerned about how to divide the funds of soybeans, while the province has water everywhere, even without a new flood. According to data from Walter Pengue, by 2015 production could reach a growth of more than 60% with respect to the average of the last three seasons. Regarding the total fertilizer consumption of 6.3 million tons for 2015, compared to almost three million today. It's crazy, in just under fifteen years, glyphosate consumption has multiplied 180 times.
Adital - The Glyphosate Observatory Day was recently held. What concrete advances did the event present?
Graciela Cristina Gomez - There is a before and after that day, the convocation of Deputy Julia Perié was extremely important, bringing the issue to the National Congress is an opportunity that nobody gave us before. The debate carried out and the information presented was of such magnitude and so overwhelming that many present expressed feeling chills at seeing the images and data of babies with malformations that each exhibitor, from the different provinces, described in detail. They did not leave room for doubts, but rather certainties, that we were all there looking for an urgent solution from the government.
People ask for information about the day because the censorship made sure that it was not published in the media, only the support of Misiones and a few independent media reported the parade of scientists, doctors and NGOs that took place in Congress.
Adital - What evaluation do you make of the involvement of society in general with this issue? Are there campaigns that bring the issue and its damage closer to the population? Or only the population of the affected regions knows the dimension of the problem?
Graciela Cristina Gomez - There are no campaigns, we give talks in rural schools, in places where they ask us to go with Ongs and Dr Paramo, but from the authorities, and from the fumigated towns it is difficult to get an ordinance, the pseudo-field dominates all spheres , my province is a fiefdom in the XXI century. Buenos Aires recently echoed the issue because they were spraying the train tracks with glyphosate, in the heart of the Federal Capital and even behind the presidential palace, when they found out that the "matayuyos" is Round Up, they joined our fight. This is repeated throughout the country, municipalities and communes use it for squares, parks and roadsides. That is complicity, it is not ignorance.
Adital - In a few countries, Monsanto - as the main symbol of this harmful culture - has been banned from planting GM soybeans, due to the uncertainties that still surround the issue of genetically modified foods. Do you think that the road is still long to show the true environmental, human and financial effects that these industries generate?
Graciela Cristina Gomez - Indeed, but there is a reason: the complicity of each country where they manage to penetrate, violating the legislation and the precautionary principle. The massive genocide of Plan Colombia, the complicity of international organizations, call it FDA and WHO, FAO or whoever corresponds to regulate and warn about these poisons and the local accomplices SENASA, CONABIA, CASAFE, among others.
Everyone looks the other way, they appear in the media shamelessly saying that the herbicide is better than table salt. I invite all of them to have breakfast every morning with glyphosate and its adjuvant, the same cocktail they use to fumigate, and in a few months we will speak again ... We know what it produces, but they cannot prove otherwise, even with fraud or paying. Scientists, Goliath has feet of clay, the days are numbered, like many of those officials.
Report made for Adital Brasil- Portuguese version here