By Patricio Eleisegui
Almost 98% of the games of pears offered between 2011 and 2013 in the Central Market of Buenos Aires and their similar ones in La Plata and General Pueyrredón -Mar del Plata- tested positive in 20 varieties of insecticides and fungicides. Practically 93% of the celery samples monitored at the same points showed traces of 16 agrochemicals. More than 91% of the mandarins that were marketed at that time in these distribution centers also showed traces of 16 other pesticides.
The applesAnother example: 85% of the fruit revealed the presence of 22 types of insecticides, fungicides and acaricides. 76.6% of the strawberry samples exposed the remains of 17 pesticides. Of a total of 27 fruits, vegetables and similar productions surveyed, only 4 varieties gave 0 in contamination: onion, sweet potato, yerba mate and almonds.
Already in 2016, a similar experience -although established in a different way in different files- went further: it found that 65.4% of the celery consignments put up for sale in the same places contained concentrations of, mainly, insecticides and fungicides above the MRLs (Maximum Residue Limits) established by current regulations in Argentina for this type of food.
In total, the presence of 21 agrochemicals was found only in this product, among them the insecticide endosulfan, which has been banned in Argentina since mid-2013. In carrots, 62.5% of the samples analyzed gave a similar result - 6 active principles, divided between insecticides and fungicides-.
Thepepper was no exception: 50% of the samples revealed a toxic concentration that violates legal guidelines. 3 pesticides were located. In the case of strawberries, 41.6% of the fruit analyzed between 2014 and 2016 also resulted in contamination higher than that set by the MRLs. Seventeen agrochemicals detected. Out of 34 products monitored, only 8 were within the permitted range. In other words, respecting the preset limits. Of course, these latest files do not clarify whether in those cases in which the MRLs were not violated, traces of agrochemicals were detected or not in fruit and vegetables.
All this detail is found in two documents from the National Service for Agrifood Health and Quality (SENASA) to which, by legal request, the environmental NGO Nature of Rights accessed and which were approached to whoever writes here in the last hours. The material gave rise to an article signed by this journalist for the Adelanto 24 news portal.
Specifically, the results reveal that the Argentine State knows that practically all the fruits and vegetables that are marketed in the country are in some way contaminated with agrochemicals.
"The data is part of SENASA's response to a request for records of controls that have been carried out in the last 5 years in the Central Market and the regional markets of La Plata and Pueyrredón. The reality is that it is conclusive information although incomplete: SENASA at no time clarifies the amounts located in each product and what decision it made regarding the destination of so much contaminated fruit and vegetables ", commented Fernando Cabaleiro, lawyer and head of Nature of Rights.
"The forms delivered by the agency correspond to controls in 2013 and 2016. And they vary in the way in which the data was established. In the first experience, SENASA explained in detail all the positive cases of contamination. Already in the work of 2016, care was taken and he only mentioned those that exceeded the allowed limits. He never specified whether he also placed agrochemicals in fruits and vegetables that did not violate the established toxicity guideline, "he added.
According to Cabaleiro, the data was delivered only when Nature of Rights gave a deadline with advance promise of legal action in case of being breached. "Here it is the State itself that recognizes that fruits and vegetables reach the markets totally contaminated. Likewise, SENASA replied with partial information, very poorly prepared. That exposes that there is a lack of interest from the same organism regarding what happens" he told this journalist.
A sample of the poisoned varieties and the agrochemicals detected:
Also from the period 2011-2013:
In strawberry, potato and apple:
The pear, at the head among the fruits with the highest presence of pesticides, with 302 contaminated samples out of a total of 309 subjected to examination:
For the 2014-2016 period, and as Cabaleiro explained before, SENASA carried out a maneuver aimed at covering the organism's laziness: it stopped recording the total amount of contaminated fruits and vegetables and instead only exposed those cases in which it did find a violation of the allowed limits - stated as "NC" -.
A first detail of said monitoring:
Strawberry and peppers, complicated:
Last detail of the period in question. Cherry, paprika, pineapple, some of the products that stand out in a record that scares:
From all the above, the apple appears as a case to be analyzed in a specific way due to the copious cocktail with which the fruit is bombarded: 22 products divided between acaricides, fungicides and insecticides.
Among all of them, these names stand out:
• Acetamiprid: neonicotinoid insecticide of limited use in Europe due to its ability to extinguish honey bee populations.
• Acrinathrin: pyrethroid insecticide linked to cypermethrin, lethal to bees and fish. The latter appears as one of the developments that, in combination with other pesticides, has been causing cases of toxic polyneuropathies and disorders in the peripheral nervous system, such as the one reported by Fabián Tomasi, a former employee of a spraying company in Basabilbaso, province of Entre Ríos.
• Chlorothalonil: fungicide, capable of damaging skin and eyes if applied without protection. Toxic to fish and any aquatic organism in general.
• Carbendazim: fungicide, very close to being banned in Europe due to its proven endocrine disruptor behavior. Also, its active ingredient, carbendazim, can affect male fertility.
• Bifenthrin: pyrethroid insecticide.
• Carbaryl: insecticide. Potentially carcinogenic to humans. Kill crustaceans and bees. Currently, it is banned in Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Austria, among other countries. A document from the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) published on October 15, 2013, and signed by Mariela Curetti, agronomist at the Alto Valle Agricultural Experiment Station, recognizes: "If this thinner is used, it should not be forgotten that it is an insecticide that affects bees and can generate residues in the fruit, a limitation especially in early harvest varieties such as Gala. "
• Chlorpyrifos: organophosphate insecticide. One of the most widely used pesticides in agriculture in Argentina. Dow, its developer, was fined in 1995 and 2003 for hiding almost 250 cases of poisoning with this agrochemical in the United States alone and continuing to advertise the insecticide as a "safe" product. In the sum of both sanctions, Dow ended up paying more than 2.7 million dollars as a penalty. Already in 2011, a study carried out by the North American University of Columbia linked the insecticide with numerous cases of children affected with mental and physical retardation in areas near New York.
• Fenazaquin: acaricide from the group of quinazolines. Very toxic to fish and aquatic organisms in general. Deadly to bees.
• Fludioxonil: fungicide, extremely toxic to aquatic organisms.
• Iprodione: fungicide. Since 1996, banned for the production of fine fruits such as cherries throughout the United States. In a context of high exposure, carcinogenic to humans.
• Malathion: organophosphate insecticide. Endocrine disruptor.
• Methylazinfos: organophosphate insecticide. Banned in Argentina since March 31 of this year. Highly toxic to humans, birds and insects in general.
• Novaluron: insecticide, from the chemical group of benzoylureas. Lethal to bees and aquatic organisms. Banned since 2011 in much of Europe.
• Thiabendazole: fungicide, very toxic to fish and aquatic organisms in general.
• Thiacloprid: neonicotinoid insecticide developed by Bayer. Of use banned by the bulk of the countries of the European Union for threatening the survival of bees.
• Thiamethoxam: neonicotinoid insecticide. Restricted in France and Germany for causing the same as Thiacloprid.
Such a cocktail, which is exposed in the SENASA documents, is part of a production culture tied to agrochemicals to which practically no crops escape. There are also cases that are more frightening than frightening: in the arugula, the official organism located items contaminated with DDT, a carcinogenic insecticide banned in Argentina since 1990.
"Unfortunately, SENASA does not specify in the information sent if all the products found belong to different monitored items or if they were located together in the same fruit or vegetable. Incomplete data add more drama to a catastrophic result," said Cabaleiro.
What follows for Nature of Rights is a request to the National Administration of Medicines, Foods and Medical Technology (ANMAT) for the latter body to evaluate the chemical situation of all foods developed from these fruits and vegetables.
"We are going to demand that it be verified if there are no agrochemicals in products such as, for example, tomato puree, canned foods, canned foods. The grapes tested positive for contamination, what happens with the wine? As for citrus fruits, there are also traces. What about the jams? And with the juices, the flavored waters? We are going to judicially demand that the ANMAT issue itself regarding all these questions, "anticipated the interviewee.
Before sowing panic, the intention of the lawyer is to encourage the judicial claim in such a way that SENASA not only adjusts the control but also makes public the result of each of its monitoring, reports the cocktails located, and details the origin and destination of the contaminated merchandise. "There is a state here that is looking the other way," Cabaleiro summarized. To the tragedy of each one of us, he is absolutely right.
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