Author Topic: GM in South America  (Read 391 times)


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GM in South America
« on: February 22, 2015, 08:54:56 AM »
Another good one from Dr. Mae Wan-Ho's website:

Devastating Impacts of Glyphosate Use with GMO Seeds in Argentina
        Today at 8:10 AM

The Institute of Science in Society

Science Society Sustainability

This article can be found on the I-SIS website at

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ISIS Report 18/02/15
Devastating Impacts of Glyphosate Use with GMO Seeds in Argentina


Widespread GM soybean cultivation and accompanying pesticide spraying is
wreaking havoc on the health of millions. Dr Medardo Ávila-Vázquez

Dr Medardo Ávila-Vázquez
, a paediatrician and neonatologist at the Faculty of
Medical Sciences, National University of Córdoba, Argentina is the coordinator
of the Physicians of Crop-Sprayed Towns, a University Network for Environment
and Health that campaigns against agrochemical spraying and provides medical
treatment to villages suffering from illnesses as a result of agrochemical
exposure. Since noticing the health of his patients deteriorate and patterns of
illness change, he has campaigned tirelessly for the protection of local people,
particularly children who are some of the worst affected.

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 [1].

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 [2].

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

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.

More and more children are born with defects in these areas, especially if the
first months of pregnancy coincide with the time of spraying. Down’s syndrome,
spina bifida, myelomeningocele (neural tube defect), congenital heart disease,
etc. are diagnosed more frequently in those areas; in some towns and during some
years, at triple the normal rates, and directly linked to increased pesticide
applications around the towns [3, 4] (see Figure 1). Neural tube defects are
among the most common developmental birth defects observed, which is consistent
with lab studies and farm observations see [5] A Roundup of Roundup® Reveals
Converging Pattern of Toxicity from Farm to Clinic to Laboratory Studies, SiS

Crop-sprayed towns also show a change in the causes of death. According to data
from the civil records offices to which we had access, over 30 % of deaths are
from cancer, while nationwide, the percentage is less than 20 %. Cancer death
rates have clearly increased in those areas, and this is a new phenomenon
detected by our colleagues since 2000 [3, 4, 6]. Significantly, the date
coincides with the expansion in the use of glyphosate and other agrochemicals
massively applied in those areas. In May 2014, the Ministry of Health of the
Province of Córdoba published data from its cancer registry, confirming that in
the most intensive agricultural areas, deaths due to cancer exceed by 100 %
those in the city, and by 70 % the provincial average [7].

The toxic agrochemicals affect everyone, but it is the poor people, the
labourers, their wives and children, who are the least likely to be protected
and to recover their health. Also, in the North of Córdoba and Santa Fe, most of
the new ventures into toxic agriculture are owned by corporations and
agricultural conglomerates that use air fumigation, delivering much higher doses
of poison due to the climatic and biological conditions in the region; and
mainly indigenous peoples and peasants suffer the consequences.

Read the rest of this report here