Pesticides sold by Monsanto are behind health problems ranging from birth defects to elevated rates of cancer in Argentina, a report has revealed. A lack of regulations has led to widespread misuse of Monsanto’s products in the Latin American nation.
The Associated Press carried out a report that found a clear link
between the use of pesticides sold by Monsanto and growing health
problems in Argentina. Absence of regulations and their
enforcement has led to widespread misuse of Monsanto’s chemicals
across the country. In turn, this has caused multiple health
problems in the rural population.
AP documented a number of occasions when toxic pesticides were
used close to populated areas and consequently contaminated the
water supply and caused health problems.
Santa Fe Province, which is Argentina’s number one producer of
cereals, forbids the use of pesticides less than 500 meters from
populated areas. However, AF uncovered evidence that toxic
chemicals were used as little as 30 meters from people’s homes.
Schoolteacher Andrea Druetta who lives in Santa Fe told AP that
her children had been covered in pesticides recently while
swimming in the garden pool.
In addition, studies show that cancer rates in the province are
two to four times higher than the rest of the country, while in
the neighboring province of Chaco birth defects have quadrupled
since the introduction of biotechnology in the agricultural
industry around a decade ago.
Researchers also found high rates of thyroid disorders and
chronic respiratory illness in Santa Fe.
Monsanto’s chemical pesticide, Roundup, contains a substance
called glyphosate. While the substance has been deemed harmless,
AP found that it is being used in a number of ways in Argentina
that are “unanticipated by regulatory science or specifically
banned by existing law.”
Doctor Damian Vernassi from the Faculty of Medicine of the
University of Rosario told RT’s Spanish channel, Actualidad RT,
that these chemical mixes could be responsible for the drastic
increase in health problems.
“It could be linked to pesticides,” he said. “There has
been analysis of the primary ingredient, but we have never
investigated the interactions between the different chemicals
that are being mixed.”
AP interviewed Argentine farmhand, Fabian Tomassi, who worked
preparing a cocktail of chemicals to spray crops for three years.
He now suffers from the debilitating neurological disorder,
polyneuropathy, and is near death.
“I prepared millions of liters of poison without any kind of
protection, no gloves, masks or special clothing," he said.
"I didn't know anything. I only learned later what it did to
me, after contacting scientists.”
In response to the study, Monsanto issued a statement saying that
it “does not condone the misuse of pesticides or the violation
of any pesticide law, regulation, or court ruling."
"Monsanto takes the stewardship of products seriously and we
communicate regularly with our customers regarding proper use of
our products," said spokesperson Thomas Helscher in a written
Argentina was one of the first countries to adopt Monsanto’s
biotechnology to increase its agricultural output. The
multinational’s products transformed Argentina into the world’s
third largest producer of soy.
At present Argentina’s entire soy crop is genetically modified,
as is most of its corn and cotton. In addition, AP found that
Argentine farmers use about 4.5 pounds of pesticide concentrate
per acre, which is over double the amount used in the US.