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By El Paranaense
In Misiones, 5 out of every 1000 children are born with malformations. The cases are repeated in the tobacco and paper-producing areas, where pesticides are used, and the problem is transferred to the entire environment, with soil degradation, air pollution and the poisoning of water courses.
Five out of every 1000 Missionary Children suffer from malformations due to pesticides
In Misiones, 5 out of every 1000 children are born affected by Meliomeningocele, a malformation of the central nervous system. The cases are repeated in the tobacco and paper-producing areas, where pesticides are used, and the problem is transferred to the entire environment, with soil degradation, air pollution and the poisoning of water courses. The province has a regulation created to avoid these situations, the Agrotoxics Law 2980, which must be applied by the Ministry of Ecology.
The health problems were demonstrated by the investigations carried out by Dr. Juan Carlos Demaio, chief of surgery at the Ramón Madariaga provincial hospital. Without a budget and against the interests of tobacco and paper companies, he warned to become aware and stop once and for all with the indiscriminate use of pesticides that badly shape the future. It should be taken into account that in Misiones it is estimated that about 13% of its population has a disability, almost doubling the national average. This alert occurred within the framework of the Third Conference on Disability and Human Rights that, organized by the CTA, PAMI and the Secretariat for Human Rights, took place in Posadas days ago.
Demaio's investigations began with the detection of a large number of boys with malformations of the central nervous system, called myoelomelingocele (MMC), which implies that they are born with an open spinal cord, leaving them with urinary and fecal incontinence and lower limb motor disorders. Faced with this detection, in 1987 he created the Misiones Center for Research, Study and Treatment of Malformative Diseases, which began by identifying in which areas the affected children had been gestated, since this malformation occurs within 28 days of gestation. "After visiting all the rural areas and seeing the consumption of pesticides, we certified that our patients came from the places where more pesticides were used," he said. "There are 5 out of every 1000 newborns are born with MMC."
As Demaio explained, these investigations were parallel to those of the human genome, which is why they began to look for the genes that manage the detoxification of the environment, which could be the gene responsible for this malformation. They worked with children without any pathology, seeing how their genome behaved in the presence of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons that are found as pollutants, vehicles or in the main chemical structure of many pesticides that are used in the province of Misiones. The result was that the patients with MMC had a very significant difference in terms of the gene studied and the mutated forms of it, which give the wearer a special susceptibility to contaminants, causing them phenomena of mutagenesis, teratogenesis and toxicity. The loss of learning capacity due to modification of the human genome implies that it is transmitted to one's own children. All these injuries are contemplated in the pesticide law, which in Article 7 says that those agrochemicals that are prohibited from being used in their country of origin or in a developed country that have been shown to produce the injuries mentioned should not be used. "This was done here, without a budget, without help and against all those who finance the research projects that are convenient for them because this province is not fumigated with the backpack behind the back, but with airplanes," he said, and denounced: "When we see what budget Monsanto has for Latin America, which has its large agency here in Posadas, 30 billion dollars are invested in pesticides so that a few are very rich and so that all the rest are disabled." In 2001, a bill was approved, at the initiative of Demaio, on the use of folic acid in women of gestational age, which reduces the risk of MMC. However, the law remains unfulfilled.
In Misiones the manipulation of these poisons is regulated by the Agrotoxic Law 2980. Under the responsibility of the Ministry of Ecology.
The situation in Corrientes
Pesticides used in tomato plantations in Santa Lucía would be contaminating water bodies in that town, according to the regional coordinator of the Institute of Popular Culture (INCUPO), Ernesto Estharinger, in dialogue with the newspaper Momaradu.com.
Santa Lucía, located in the southeast of Corrientes, is one of the towns in the province with the greatest development of tomato plantations. The water tables are contaminated by the improper use of pesticides on tomato plants, and several producers in the area have reported symptoms of "poisoning" due to direct contact with toxic substances used in these crops and in those of strawberries and watermelons. "In general, pollution does not act at the time and directly on people and instead, produce serious long-term effects such as leukemias or congenital malformations."
The situation would be repeated in Goya, Lavalle and Bella Vista.
The situation in Paraguay
Paraguay is the third largest exporter and fourth world producer of soybeans. 85% of the seeds planted belong to Monsanto. The Ministry of Health registered 430 cases of poisoning and death between 1999 and 2000.
In this context, perhaps the most resonant case in Paraguay is the death of the child Silvino Talavera, which occurred in Pirapey in January 2003. This is an emblematic case because it is not the only case of peasants killed by pesticides in "soybean" areas of the country, and because it gave rise to the first trial of producers, sentenced to only 2 years in prison.
“The boy, only 11 years old, died after 5 days of intense agony at the Encarnación regional hospital. He had been transferred from his home in Pirapeý, where days ago he and his sister had been sprayed with Roundup and Cypermethrin herbicides. Shortly thereafter, scientific investigations showed that he had died from intoxication with pesticides used by Brazilian soybean farmers of German origin Lauro Lautenslager and Herman Schelnder. Silvino's family had their farm next to the soy plantations ”(ABC Color).
Roundup and Cypermethrin are the herbicides that poisoned Silvino Talavera and his sister who managed to survive, but will have to bear the consequences of the poisoning for the rest of his life. They are two herbicides produced by the American multinational Monsanto, a powerful worldwide producer of transgenic seeds and pesticides.
Effects on the environment
With monoculture as the predominant form of agricultural and forestry production, the use of pesticides has become widespread in the region. These poisons damage soils, aquifers, pollute the air and affect the health of millions of people (farm workers, consumers and the general population). The International Labor Organization (ILO) points out that of a total of 3 and 5 million cases per year of affected farmers, 40,000 die from acute poisonings and clarifies that these are only a visible part of the damage caused by these products.
The environmental impact caused by pesticides affects all living beings and not only so-called pests. By persisting in the environment long after its application, its concentration can increase, causing harmful effects to man and nature.
The general population can be exposed to this type of contamination, not only due to soil degradation (they sterilize and turn the soil into an inert soil, since they cancel the action of the microfauna and flora necessary for the conversion, fixation and assimilation of nutrients from the atmosphere), air pollution and water poisoning, but also by the domestic use of pesticides that cause constant poisoning in adults and especially in children.
Types and forms of contamination
Pesticides are divided into two major risk groups. In group 1 are those that act on certain organisms: insecticides, herbicides, acaricides, fungicides, rodenticides, etc. Group 2 is determined by the chemical structure of the substances with pesticidal activity that compose them.
There are several routes of intoxication: oral or by inhalation of the product, dermal by penetration through the skin and by ingestion of contaminated food.
In the case of food, the following examples are cited:
Vegetables: They usually have traces of organochlorine pesticides. In addition to washing and cooking, the peel must be removed to minimize risks. Tomatoes and peppers usually have traces of organophosphates. Wash them very well before consuming. Chard and spinach: only with a good cooking can the risk of poisoning be eliminated.
Fruits: Wash and peel very well. Do not eat raw fruit with the skin.
Cereals: They usually carry traces of organochlorine pesticides. Do not eat these foods without first doing a good cooking that will minimize the risk.
Meat, eggs and milk: They should be eaten well cooked.
Characteristics of group 1, called organochlorines: Group of compounds with a very varied chemical structure that in common have the presence of chlorine in their molecule.
These compounds, once they enter the human body, stay for years in the fat-rich organs.
The symptoms of poisoning do not appear immediately, but accumulate and exceed the resistance limit of the liver causing headache, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, nausea, sweating, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, inflammation of joints, irreversible damage to vision, alteration of the nervous system, respiratory, blood and bone problems, mental retardation, carcinogenicity, reproductive damage and death.
Acute poisoning can leave serious sequelae in the kidneys and liver, for example: Endosulfan.
Characteristics of group 2, called organophosphates: They are of low residual power but of high toxicity. Symptoms of intoxication are: profuse salivation, bradycardia, miosis, hyperemia, vasomotor paralysis, excessive sweating, tremors, lack of muscle coordination, blurred vision, yellowish-red skin color, seizures, memory loss, chest tightness, breathing noisy, abdominal and muscle cramps.
They can also affect the genes causing malformations and mental deficiency.
To stop using pesticides that cause a lot of damage to rural producers, an alternative is to practice agroecology, which includes the elaboration of prepared substances that serve to prevent and control living organisms without harming nature and known as natural poisons. It is a viable technique in small plantations.
What is agroecology? It is a production system where agricultural practices are applied that benefit nature, such as the recovery and conservation of the natural fertility of the soils. Through these methods, healthier and more nutritious agricultural products are obtained, it benefits the health of the farmer and those who feed on the harvested products, the soil, air and water are not polluted, and it is also oriented towards the conservation of the last forests that exist.
Advantages of its application:
- It does not harm the farmer when spraying the crops.
- Does not create resistance in pests.
- It does not leave toxic residues in the harvested products.
- Does not harm beneficial insects.
- It does not pollute the air, the soil, or the water.
- It is cheaper than chemical pesticides.
1) Tomato leaves
Control: aphids, fleas (ky, ky’i)
Preparation: crush ½ kg of tomato leaves; mix with 1 liter of alcohol, and park for 4 days.
Application: Mix ½ liter of the preparation with 20 liters of water and spray. Do not use for tomato, locote, tobacco, hot pepper and eggplant.
Controls: aphids, fleas, spider mites, diseases caused by fungi, burrito, vaquita, leaf wilting caused by fungi.
Preparation: Crush 4 heads of garlic. Mix with 10 liters of water. Park 5 days.
Application: strain the preparation. Spray the plant. Do not use on peas, beans, butter and beans, because it stops growth.
Control: burrito, fungi, fire ants and leaf wilting in general.
Preparation: direct use.
Application: Apply the ash directly on the plant, soil and anthill manually.
4) Fruits and leaves of paradise.
Controls: aphids, fleas, larvae and fruit flies.
Preparation: soak 100 grams of fruits and leaves in 20 liters of water for 3 days.
Application: strain and spray. If it is left over, it can be saved and used again. www.EcoPortal.net
Sources: Juliana Ramírez- Red Eco ;; International Labor Organization; ABC Color and Momarandu.com newspapers; Barrameda.com.ar; Iberoamerica; Healthy Life Association.
* El Paranaense - August 31, 2005 - http://www.elparanaense.com.ar