By Giorgio Trucchi
Paraguay ranks sixth in soybean production and fourth as an exporter worldwide.
According to data from the Pan American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the 2012-2013 soybean harvest marked a production record -more than 9 million tons- in an area of 3.2 million hectares.
This means an increase in the acreage cultivated with transgenic soybeans - 95 percent patented by Monsanto and marketed mainly by ADM, Cargill, LDC and Bunge - of 109 percent in the last 10 years and 460 percent in the last two decades.
Land concentration - 2% of the owners accumulate 80 percent of the land
The accelerated expansion of the cultivation of transgenic soybeans, which currently covers more than 70 percent of the cultivated land, in a country where 2 percent of the owners accumulate 80 percent of the land, has meant the displacement of the peasant population and indigenous, the disappearance of forests and the exponential growth of the indiscriminate use of pesticides.
IICA points out that 87 percent of the total area cultivated with soybeans is in the hands of medium and large producers, while the rural population and peasant agriculture are declining every day, seriously affecting the country's food sovereignty.
Monocultures and loss of agricultural diversity - More pollution and less forests
Almost a third of the territory of the eastern region of Paraguay is cultivated with transgenic soybeans, and Monsanto plans to expand its cultivation towards the western region (Chaco), advancing on territories that are under agrarian reform.
Likewise, the most recent report from the Biodiversity Alliance on the impacts of transgenic soy in Paraguay, estimates that between 1991 and 2009 the country lost more than 3.2 million hectares of native forest, that is, 15.34 percent of the total area.
It also reports that, during the 2007-2008 harvest, more than 21 million liters and more than 1.9 million kilograms of pesticides were used in soybean crops, among others Glyphosate (5.3 million liters), Paraquat (6.6 million liters). liters), Endosulfan (3.2 million liters), Cypermethrin and Acefato (2 million liters).
"Since their entry illegally in the 1990s, transgenic soybeans and the agro-export model have been causing very serious social and environmental impacts, especially in the most vulnerable communities that are peasant and indigenous," he told La Rel, David Cardozo, manager of the Program for Biological Diversity and Culture of the organization Survival | Friends of the Earth Paraguay.
Cardozo pointed out that there is already abundant evidence of the serious health effects caused by the indiscriminate use of pesticides, mainly glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, the herbicide produced by Monsanto.
“Dozens of cases of pregnancy loss, congenital malformations, gastrointestinal disorders, as well as the increase in cancer have already been detected.
We also have the cases of Silvino Talavera, 11 years old, and the sisters Adelaida and Adela Álvarez Cabrera, 3 years and 6 months respectively, who died tragically after being attacked by the fumigations, ”Cardozo recalled.
Criminalization of protest and violation of Human Rights
The massacre that occurred in Curuguaty during the eviction of the state lands of Marina Cué, where 11 peasants and 6 policemen lost their lives, not only served the most backward sectors of the country, in collusion with the large transnational agro-export capital, to carry out a coup of Parliamentary state to the then president Fernando Lugo, but allowed to erase the advances achieved until then.
“During the de facto government of Federico Franco, new transgenic soybean, cotton and corn crops were illegally released, violating national regulations that provide for the preparation of environmental impact studies and controlled experimentation for a period of two years . This continues with the new government of Horacio Cartes ”, explained the director of Survival Friends of the Earth Paraguay.
In addition, he pointed out that there is a worrying and growing criminalization and prosecution of the protest against the expansion of soy cultivation and the agro-export model in general.
During the last decade, there has been an exponential increase in violent evictions and displacements, arrests and the murder of those who fight for access to land and against the expansion of this predatory model.
"It is a model that violates human rights, which uses harassment, persecution, and repression to restrict freedom and continue to concentrate land and territories," concluded Cardozo.