Iowa Public Television

 

Argentine Doctors Claim Uncontrolled Agrochemicals Cause Health Problems

posted on October 18, 2013


BASAVILBASO, Argentina — Argentine farmworker Fabian Tomasi was never trained to handle pesticides. His job was to keep the crop dusters flying by filling their tanks as quickly as possible, although it often meant getting drenched in poison. Now, at 47, he's a living skeleton, too weak to leave his house in Entre Rios province.

Schoolteacher Andrea Druetta lives in Santa Fe Province, the heart of Argentina's soy country, where agrochemical spraying is banned within 500 meters of populated areas. But soy is planted just 30 meters from her back door. Her boys were showered in chemicals recently while swimming in the backyard pool.

After Sofia Gatica lost her newborn to kidney failure, she filed a complaint that led to Argentina's first criminal convictions for illegal spraying. But last year's verdict came too late for many of her 5,300 neighbors in Ituzaingo Annex. A government study there found alarming levels of agrochemical contamination in the soil and drinking water, and 80 percent of the children surveyed carried traces of pesticide in their blood.

The Associated Press documented cases around Argentina of poisons being applied in ways unanticipated by regulatory science or banned by existing law. Spray drifts into schools and homes and settles over water sources; farmworkers mix poisons with no protective gear; villagers store water in pesticide containers that should have been destroyed.

Doctors are warning that uncontrolled pesticide applications could be the cause of growing health problems among the 12 million people who live in the South American nation's vast farm belt.


Tags: agrochemicals Argentiana GMO health problems