Toxic Agriculture and Crop-Sprayed Towns
Over the last 20 years, industrial agriculture in Argentina has expanded by almost 50 %, taking over regions intended for other productions, for family farming, and most of all, forests.
A ton of soy was priced at US$16o in 2001; in July 2012, it reached US$600. At an average yield of 3 to 4 tons (T) per hectare (ha) and production costs 200-250 US$/ha, the profit is enormous.
Of the 300 000 farmers nationwide, 80 000 are engaged in transgenic and chemical agriculture; of those, 20 000 account for 70 % of the production, and are basically corporations and agricultural conglomerates renting fields or trespassing on lands belonging to peasants and native peoples .
The prevailing monoculture agribusiness model comes in a technology package that includes direct sowing, transgenic seeds, and the application of pesticides. In order to sustain production, increasing amounts of agrochemicals are applied in an area where transgenic crops coexist with more than 12 million people.
We must recognize that the agrochemicals used are all poisonous: herbicides like glyphosate, 2,4-D ((2,4-Dichlorophenoxy)acetic acid) or Atrazine, are designed to kill plants, and endosulfan, chlorpyrifos, dimethoate, cypermethrin, imidacloprid, etc. are designed to kill insects and are the most widely used; they all have deleterious effects on human health and the environment. The use of these pesticides has been increasing exponentially since 1990: back then, 30 million litres* of poisons were used; during the 2012/2013 crop season more than 318 million litres were applied. On the same hectare where 2 or 3 litres of glyphosate were used per year, today 8 or 12 litres are used with 1.5 litres of 2,4-D in addition. In Santiago del Estero, Salta, and Chaco (north-western Argentina) up to 20 litres/ha/year of Round Up are used .
To grow 100 ha of GM soy today requires 14 working days for a single worker: one day for sowing, another for harvesting at the end, and the remaining 12 days in between for applying poisons over the same field.
Birth defects and increasing cancer
After 18 years of systematic sprayings, health teams in fumigated towns detect a change in the pattern of diseases in their populations: respiratory problems are much more common and are linked to the application of agricultural poisons, as is chronic dermatitis. Similarly, during fumigation, epileptic patients convulse much more frequently, and depression, immune and endocrine disorders are more frequent.
High rates of miscarriages are recorded (up to 23 % of women of reproductive age had at least one abortion in the past 5 years) and consultations for infertility in men and women have significantly increased. Herds of goats belonging to farmers and indigenous people in some areas record up to 100 % of abortions or premature deaths due to malformations linked to pesticide exposure. Increased thyroid disorders and diabetes are also detected in local people.