The Human Cost of Agrotoxins
In 1996, the Argentinian Government approved the commercialization of transgenic soybeans and the use of the herbicide glyphosate. Argentina approved the GMO (genetically modified organism) without conducting their own studies, taking as scientific evidence only the ones published by the Monsanto Company. The transgenic soybean cultivation was authorized in only three months through an administrative procedure. Since then, the country became an experimental field.
In 2015, after almost 20 years, over 24,5 million hectares, which represents the 60 percent of the country’s cultivated land area, was sprayed with 320 million liters (84 million U.S gallons) of agrotoxins a year ( plus 200 million liters/53 million U.S gallons of glyphosate + 120 million liters/32 million U.S gallons of other herbicides, insecticides and fungicides), which are forbidden in most countries in the world. According to the information of the crop-sprayed towns, 13.4 million people are affected. Argentina has one of the highest rate of use of agrotoxins per person in the planet (7.6 liters/2 US gallons). This means an increase of 1057% in two decades.
The agrotoxines business in Argentina, is lead by a group of 25 national and international companies, with a total profit of almost 2550 million US dollars a year, a result of the commercialization of pesticides.
During human history, we have been feeding ourselves from the resources of the land. The most recent generation is being fed from seeds that are made in a laboratory, which make us really doubt food safety. If the food safety is under the control of the corporations, also our health and, in some way, our own freedoms are too.
Hundreds of studies in the scientific world are showing the human and environmental damage of the agrotoxins. For Example the health survey of the Rosario’s University showed that in the crop-sprayed towns, the oncological rate is 2 or 3 times higher than the national average. In some of these towns, the cases of malformation in new born babies and the spontaneous abortion has increased exponentially, to the same rhythm of the transgenic crop. A La Plata’s University study of vegetables and fruits randomly selected, reveled, that between the 70% and the 80% of them, contained between 2 and 3 agrotoxines.
Also a recent scientific study from CONICET ( The National Scientific and Technical Research Council), published by the International Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Magazine, showed that one of the most important river basins in South America (Paraná River) is completely contaminated with glyphosate or AMPA (degradation of glyphosate).
Other terrible consequences of this agroindustrial model is the displacement of the native people and the massive autochthonous tree logging.
Important media enterprises have perversely hidden the outrageous numbers of affected population, and became accomplices of those directly responsible like Monsanto, politicians, important landowners and seed pools.
- Monte Maiz, province of Cordoba, Argentina
Alfredo Cerán worked for nine years as a ground crop-duster applying agrochemicals in soybean fields. His fingernail matrices burned. His medical blood tests for agrochemicals showed residues of glyphosate, Clorpiritos, Azatrine, 2.4-D and Cipermetrina.
- San Vicente, Province of Misiones.
Talía Belén Soroco (14 years) has a congenital malformation. She underwent heart surgery and suffers severe motor problems. Her father Juan and her mother Anita worked in the tobacco fields since they were children and manipulated forbidden pesticides such as Furadan and bromomethane. Soon after the birth of their daughter Talía, they decided to leave the fields and undertake sustainable horticulture.
- Alicia Baja- Colonia Aurora, Province of Misiones
Lucas Techeira is 5 years old and has an incurable disease called Lamellar Ichthyosis caused by a gen mutation. Misiones province was the gate of the transgenic crops in Argentina. The Argentinian Government authorize the use since 1996 based only on Monsanto’s studies.
- San Vicente, Province of Misiones. Sandra Sosa is Leonardo Lorenzo’s mother, suffering from brain paralysis and epilepsy as a result of the repeating fumigations. They currently live in the “Progeso” neighbor, where the number of disabled children and teenagers is growing exponentially.
- Fracrán, province of Misiones.
In the Province of Misiones, five in a thousand children are born with myelomeningocele (MMC), a severe malformation of the central nervous system in which children are born with the spinal cord open and left with urinary and fecal incontinence and problems in their lower limbs. The misuse of agrotoxins causes contamination of precious resources such as water and soil. The pollution is more severe in the areas where agrotoxines are more widely used ( in the localities of Aristóbulo del Valle, San Vicente and Colonia Aurora, in the center of the province). It is estimated that nearly 13 % of their population has some form of disability, doubling the national average.
- Napenay, Province of Chaco.
Anita Sosa (2011) can’t walk by herself but she plays dreaming to be a dancer together with her elder sister. Liliana Dworak, mother of both, talked about several highly toxic substances she was exposed to and that complicated her last pregnancy. She had her house spread by the local administration to control dengue
- Avia Terai provincia de Chaco, Argentina
Avia Terai is a town of five thousand inhabitants in the geographical center of Chaco. The town is literally surrounded by soybean and sunflower crops are fumigated ten to twelve times a year. A scientific study confirmed the complaint of residents: 31.3 percent of the population surveyed reported having had a family member with cancer. Very high cancer rates, and disability, were repeated in three other cities surrounded by transgenic fields: Campo Largo, Napenay and La Leonesa. This was revealed by an interdisciplinary study, conducted for a year and sponsored by the Ministry of Health of the Nation. The research links the cause of diseases with the agricultural model.
- Entre Rios, Argentina
Fabián Tomasi worked for years on loading and pumping jobs in an aerial crop-spraying company. He suffers from severe toxic poly-neuropathy and is currently being treated for general muscular atrophy, which keeps him bed-ridden. Fabián has become a living example of the impact of agrochemicals on human health. He devotes his life to spreading awareness of this problem.
- Gral Campos, province of Entre Ríos.
Maribella Alexandra Duarte (2004) suffers from a congenital malformation that does not allow her to move around by her own means. She and her family live some 30 meters away from soybean fields exposed to spraying of fungicides. Her mother Mariela Montes recalls that 20 days ago she had to run in the aid of her 7 children because her house had received air spraying. In their village 19 cases of terminal cancer were registered on the 500 meters that look upon a soybean farm.
- Alicia Baja – Colonia Auror, Province of Misiones.
Andrea Gotin was a healthy girl until one afternoon, when she was eight years old, she inhaled bromomethane and had to be hospitalized and stayed nine days in intensive care. The fever she ran a few hours after inhaling the substance affected the motor function of her brain. She needs a kidney transplant and has to undergo dialysis three times a week.Her brother Ademir (20) suffers severe mental disability. On September 14, 2010, the same day that Darío Gotin, the father of the family, told his wife they would not be able to have their daughter’s kidney transplant, she died of a heart attack.
- Colonia Aurora, province of Misiones
Marcos Alejandro Kaddaztz suffered from leukemia when he was 10. His father has been working as an air sprayer of fungicide on the tobacco fields for 32 years, his mother was in hospital due to an intoxication before Marcos was born. Today he is 20 years and his family had to move from the farm where they live and establish in the town. Marcos has been on the waiting list for three years waiting for a kidney transplant in Posadas hospital.
- San Vicente, Province of Misiones
Monica Gabriela Rais (21 years old) suffers from paraplegia and mental retardation. Her mother gave birth to Monica while working in the tobacco farms at the age of 15.
- Roque Sáenz Peña, Province of Chaco.
Twins Aldo and Maximiliano Barrios and their mother Elena Alderete playing on their home street. Both children suffer from a severe congenital microcephaly, one of the illnesses associated with the use of agrochemical in transgenic agriculture. The Barrios twins attend one of the many facilities for disabled people, that are increasing in number considerably year after year.
- Firmat, Santa Fe Province
Edgar Fontanellaz and his family live in Firmat, a little village where all fields are cultivated with GMO soybean. Edgar denounced 30 times to the authorities the multiple fumigations his family was exposed to. He was threaten and shot twice. Both his sons suffer from hearing loss and Edgar thinks that this is due to the multiple exposure to agrochemicals.
- Alicia Alta Misiones
A girl runs across the fields.
© Pablo E. Piovano – Text and images