Clear
25°
Clear
Hi 34° | Lo 17°

Argentines link health problems to Monsanto agrochemicals

  • In this Sept. 24, 2013 photo, students play soccer during recess at a rural school near Concepcion del Uruguay, Entre Rios province, Argentina. Teachers say the farm that abuts their school yard has been illegally sprayed with pesticides, even during class time. In Entre Rios, teachers reported that sprayers failed to respect legally required 50 meter setbacks outside 18 schools, and doused 11 of them while students were in session. Five teachers have since filed police complaints. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this Sept. 24, 2013 photo, students play soccer during recess at a rural school near Concepcion del Uruguay, Entre Rios province, Argentina. Teachers say the farm that abuts their school yard has been illegally sprayed with pesticides, even during class time. In Entre Rios, teachers reported that sprayers failed to respect legally required 50 meter setbacks outside 18 schools, and doused 11 of them while students were in session. Five teachers have since filed police complaints. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this April 1, 2013 photo, Aixa Cano, 5, who has hairy moles all over her body that doctors can't explain, sits on a stoop outside her home in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. Although it’s nearly impossible to prove, doctors say Aixa’s birth defect may be linked to agrochemicals. In Chaco, children are four times more likely to be born with devastating birth defects since biotechnology dramatically expanded farming in Argentina. Chemicals routinely contaminate homes, classrooms and drinking water. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this April 1, 2013 photo, Aixa Cano, 5, who has hairy moles all over her body that doctors can't explain, sits on a stoop outside her home in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. Although it’s nearly impossible to prove, doctors say Aixa’s birth defect may be linked to agrochemicals. In Chaco, children are four times more likely to be born with devastating birth defects since biotechnology dramatically expanded farming in Argentina. Chemicals routinely contaminate homes, classrooms and drinking water. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this Sept. 24, 2013, photo, a tractor used for spraying agrochemicals is reflected in a car's side view mirror on a road in Parana, in Entre Rios province, Argentina. Glyphosate represents two-thirds of all agrochemicals used in Argentina, but resistance to pesticides is forcing farmers to mix in other poisons such as 2,4,D, which the U.S. military used in "Agent Orange" to defoliate jungles during the Vietnam War. (AP Photo/Natcha Pisarenko)

    In this Sept. 24, 2013, photo, a tractor used for spraying agrochemicals is reflected in a car's side view mirror on a road in Parana, in Entre Rios province, Argentina. Glyphosate represents two-thirds of all agrochemicals used in Argentina, but resistance to pesticides is forcing farmers to mix in other poisons such as 2,4,D, which the U.S. military used in "Agent Orange" to defoliate jungles during the Vietnam War. (AP Photo/Natcha Pisarenko)

  • In this May 31, 2013 photo, girls use slingshots next to a biotech soybean plantation in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. The country's entire soybean crop and nearly all its corn and cotton have become genetically modified in the 17 years since St. Louis-based Monsanto Company promised huge yields with fewer pesticides using its patented seeds and chemicals. Instead, the agriculture ministry says agrochemical spraying has increased eightfold, from 9 million gallons in 1990 to 84 million gallons today. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this May 31, 2013 photo, girls use slingshots next to a biotech soybean plantation in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. The country's entire soybean crop and nearly all its corn and cotton have become genetically modified in the 17 years since St. Louis-based Monsanto Company promised huge yields with fewer pesticides using its patented seeds and chemicals. Instead, the agriculture ministry says agrochemical spraying has increased eightfold, from 9 million gallons in 1990 to 84 million gallons today. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this Sept. 24, 2013, photo, a tractor known as a "mosquito" dusts a field near Parana, in the Entre Rios province, Argentina. Most provinces forbid spraying next to homes and schools, ranging in distance from 50 meters to as much as several kilometers from populated areas. But The Associated Press found many cases of soybeans planted only a few feet from homes and schools, and of chemicals mixed and loaded onto tractors inside residential neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this Sept. 24, 2013, photo, a tractor known as a "mosquito" dusts a field near Parana, in the Entre Rios province, Argentina. Most provinces forbid spraying next to homes and schools, ranging in distance from 50 meters to as much as several kilometers from populated areas. But The Associated Press found many cases of soybeans planted only a few feet from homes and schools, and of chemicals mixed and loaded onto tractors inside residential neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this Sept. 25, 2013, photo, cattle are corralled near the town of Berabevu, in Santa Fe province, Argentina. As Argentine ranchers turn to higher-profit soybeans, formerly grass-fed cattle are fattened on corn and soy meal in feedlots. Argentina’s entire soy crop and nearly all its corn have become genetically modified in the 17 years since St. Louis-based Monsanto Company promised huge yields with fewer pesticides using its patented seeds and chemicals. Soy cultivation alone has tripled to 47 million acres, transforming a nation once known for its grass-fed cattle into the world's third largest soybean producer. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this Sept. 25, 2013, photo, cattle are corralled near the town of Berabevu, in Santa Fe province, Argentina. As Argentine ranchers turn to higher-profit soybeans, formerly grass-fed cattle are fattened on corn and soy meal in feedlots. Argentina’s entire soy crop and nearly all its corn have become genetically modified in the 17 years since St. Louis-based Monsanto Company promised huge yields with fewer pesticides using its patented seeds and chemicals. Soy cultivation alone has tripled to 47 million acres, transforming a nation once known for its grass-fed cattle into the world's third largest soybean producer. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this April 16, 2013 photo, soybeans ready for harvest are bathed in afternoon light near Rawson, in Buenos Aires province, Argentina. American biotechnology has turned Argentina into the world’s third-largest soybean producer, but the chemicals powering the boom aren’t confined to soy and cotton and corn fields. They routinely contaminate homes and classrooms and drinking water. A growing chorus of doctors and scientists is warning that their uncontrolled use could be responsible for the increasing number of health problems turning up in hospitals across the South American nation.  (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this April 16, 2013 photo, soybeans ready for harvest are bathed in afternoon light near Rawson, in Buenos Aires province, Argentina. American biotechnology has turned Argentina into the world’s third-largest soybean producer, but the chemicals powering the boom aren’t confined to soy and cotton and corn fields. They routinely contaminate homes and classrooms and drinking water. A growing chorus of doctors and scientists is warning that their uncontrolled use could be responsible for the increasing number of health problems turning up in hospitals across the South American nation. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this  July 8, 2013 photo, Dr. Andres Carrasco, a molecular biologist at the University of Buenos Aires, pauses during an interview in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Carrasco found that injecting very low doses of glyphosate, a weed-killer, into embryos can change levels of retinoic acid, causing the same sort of spinal defects in frogs and chickens that doctors are increasingly registering in communities where farm chemicals are ubiquitous. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this  July 8, 2013 photo, Dr. Andres Carrasco, a molecular biologist at the University of Buenos Aires, pauses during an interview in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Carrasco found that injecting very low doses of glyphosate, a weed-killer, into embryos can change levels of retinoic acid, causing the same sort of spinal defects in frogs and chickens that doctors are increasingly registering in communities where farm chemicals are ubiquitous. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this March 9, 2013, photo, residents gather to speak with Dr. Damian Verzenassi on health concerns they have about agrochemicals in the main square of Alvear, in Santa Fe province, Argentina. In the heart of Argentina’s soybean business, house-to-house surveys of 65,000 people in farming communities found cancer rates two to four times higher than the national average, as well as higher rates of hypothyroidism and chronic respiratory illnesses. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this March 9, 2013, photo, residents gather to speak with Dr. Damian Verzenassi on health concerns they have about agrochemicals in the main square of Alvear, in Santa Fe province, Argentina. In the heart of Argentina’s soybean business, house-to-house surveys of 65,000 people in farming communities found cancer rates two to four times higher than the national average, as well as higher rates of hypothyroidism and chronic respiratory illnesses. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this April 16, 2013, photo, activist Oscar Alfredo Di Vincensi talks on a cell phone inside his tent during his one-man hunger strike demanding that agrochemical spraying not be allowed within 1,000 meters of homes, in the main square of Alberti, in Buenos Aires province, Argentina. Earlier this year, Di Vincensi stood in a field waving a court order barring spraying within 1,000 meters of homes in his town of Alberti; a tractor driver doused him in pesticide. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this April 16, 2013, photo, activist Oscar Alfredo Di Vincensi talks on a cell phone inside his tent during his one-man hunger strike demanding that agrochemical spraying not be allowed within 1,000 meters of homes, in the main square of Alberti, in Buenos Aires province, Argentina. Earlier this year, Di Vincensi stood in a field waving a court order barring spraying within 1,000 meters of homes in his town of Alberti; a tractor driver doused him in pesticide. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this April 1, 2013, photo, Silvia Alvarez leans against her red brick home while keeping an eye on her son, Ezequiel Moreno, who was born with hydrocephalus, in Gancedo, in Chaco province, Argentina. Alvarez blames continuous exposure to agrochemical spraying for two miscarriages and her son's health problems. Chaco provincial birth reports show that congenital defects quadrupled in the decade after genetically modified crops and their related agrochemicals arrived. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this April 1, 2013, photo, Silvia Alvarez leans against her red brick home while keeping an eye on her son, Ezequiel Moreno, who was born with hydrocephalus, in Gancedo, in Chaco province, Argentina. Alvarez blames continuous exposure to agrochemical spraying for two miscarriages and her son's health problems. Chaco provincial birth reports show that congenital defects quadrupled in the decade after genetically modified crops and their related agrochemicals arrived. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this March 31, 2013, photo, Erika, right, and her twin sister Macarena, who suffer from chronic respiratory illness, stand inside their home in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. The twins' mother, Claudia Sariski, whose home has no running water, says she doesn't let her children drink from the discarded pesticide containers she keeps in her dusty backyard. But her chickens do, and she has no other water to wash the family's clothes with. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this March 31, 2013, photo, Erika, right, and her twin sister Macarena, who suffer from chronic respiratory illness, stand inside their home in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. The twins' mother, Claudia Sariski, whose home has no running water, says she doesn't let her children drink from the discarded pesticide containers she keeps in her dusty backyard. But her chickens do, and she has no other water to wash the family's clothes with. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • CORRECTION TO REMOVE SENTENCE ABOUT GLYPHOSATE, WHICH CONTAINS INCORRECT DATA, AND ADD A SUBSTITUTE SENTENCE - In this May 2, 2013 photo, empty agrochemical containers including Monsanto's Roundup products lay discarded at a recycling center in Quimili, Santiago del Estero province, Argentina. Instead of a lighter chemical burden in Argentina, agrochemical spraying has increased eightfold, from 9 million gallons in 1990 to 84 million gallons today. An AP analysis of government and agrochemical industry data shows Argentine farmers use twice as much pesticide per acre as U.S. farmers do. Yet Argentina doesn’t apply national standards for farm chemicals, leaving rule-making to the provinces and enforcement to the municipalities. The result is a hodgepodge of widely ignored regulations that leave people dangerously exposed. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    CORRECTION TO REMOVE SENTENCE ABOUT GLYPHOSATE, WHICH CONTAINS INCORRECT DATA, AND ADD A SUBSTITUTE SENTENCE - In this May 2, 2013 photo, empty agrochemical containers including Monsanto's Roundup products lay discarded at a recycling center in Quimili, Santiago del Estero province, Argentina. Instead of a lighter chemical burden in Argentina, agrochemical spraying has increased eightfold, from 9 million gallons in 1990 to 84 million gallons today. An AP analysis of government and agrochemical industry data shows Argentine farmers use twice as much pesticide per acre as U.S. farmers do. Yet Argentina doesn’t apply national standards for farm chemicals, leaving rule-making to the provinces and enforcement to the municipalities. The result is a hodgepodge of widely ignored regulations that leave people dangerously exposed. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this March 31, 2013, photo, Erika, left, and her twin sister Macarena, who suffer from chronic respiratory illness, play in their backyard near recycled agrochemical containers filled with water that is used for flushing their toilet, feeding their chickens and washing their clothes, near the town of Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. The twins' mother, Claudia Sariski, whose home has no running water, says she doesn't let her children drink the water from the discarded pesticide containers. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this March 31, 2013, photo, Erika, left, and her twin sister Macarena, who suffer from chronic respiratory illness, play in their backyard near recycled agrochemical containers filled with water that is used for flushing their toilet, feeding their chickens and washing their clothes, near the town of Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. The twins' mother, Claudia Sariski, whose home has no running water, says she doesn't let her children drink the water from the discarded pesticide containers. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this March 31, 2013, photo, Camila Veron, 2, born with multiple organ problems and severely disabled, stands outside her home in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. Doctors told Camila's mother, Silvia Achaval that agrochemicals may be to blame. It's nearly impossible to prove that exposure to a specific chemical caused an individual's cancer or birth defect, but doctors say these cases merit a rigorous government investigation. "They told me that the water made this happen, because they spray a lot of poison here," said Achaval. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this March 31, 2013, photo, Camila Veron, 2, born with multiple organ problems and severely disabled, stands outside her home in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. Doctors told Camila's mother, Silvia Achaval that agrochemicals may be to blame. It's nearly impossible to prove that exposure to a specific chemical caused an individual's cancer or birth defect, but doctors say these cases merit a rigorous government investigation. "They told me that the water made this happen, because they spray a lot of poison here," said Achaval. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this May 3, 2013, photo, students stand outside their rural school in Pozo del Toba, in Santiago del Estero province, Argentina. Most Argentine provinces limit how close spraying can be done in populated areas, with setbacks ranging from as little as 50 meters to as much as several kilometers. But The Associated Press found many cases of soybeans planted only a few feet from homes and schools, and chemicals mixed and loaded onto tractors inside residential neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this May 3, 2013, photo, students stand outside their rural school in Pozo del Toba, in Santiago del Estero province, Argentina. Most Argentine provinces limit how close spraying can be done in populated areas, with setbacks ranging from as little as 50 meters to as much as several kilometers. But The Associated Press found many cases of soybeans planted only a few feet from homes and schools, and chemicals mixed and loaded onto tractors inside residential neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this Sept. 26, 2013, photo, Sofia Gatica participates in a protest to block trucks from entering the site where Monsanto Company is building its largest Latin American seed production plant, in the town of Malvinas Argentinas, in Cordoba province, Argentina. The country's entire soy crop and nearly all its corn and cotton have become genetically modified in the 17 years since the St. Louis-based company promised larger yields. Agrochemical spraying has increased eightfold. After Gatica's newborn died of kidney failure, she filed a complaint in Cordoba province that led last year to Argentina's first criminal convictions for illegal spraying. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this Sept. 26, 2013, photo, Sofia Gatica participates in a protest to block trucks from entering the site where Monsanto Company is building its largest Latin American seed production plant, in the town of Malvinas Argentinas, in Cordoba province, Argentina. The country's entire soy crop and nearly all its corn and cotton have become genetically modified in the 17 years since the St. Louis-based company promised larger yields. Agrochemical spraying has increased eightfold. After Gatica's newborn died of kidney failure, she filed a complaint in Cordoba province that led last year to Argentina's first criminal convictions for illegal spraying. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this Sept. 25, 2013, photo, a protest sign directed to Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and Cordoba Province governor Jose Manuel de la Sota that reads in Spanish; "Stop looting and contaminating! Monsanto out of Cordoba and Argentina," is posted on a fence where Monsanto is building its largest seed production plant in Latin America in the town of Malvinas Argentinas, in Cordoba province, Argentina. The country's entire soybean crop and nearly all its corn and cotton have been genetically modified in the 17 years since St. Louis-based Monsanto Company promised huge yields with fewer pesticides using its patented seeds and chemicals.  (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this Sept. 25, 2013, photo, a protest sign directed to Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and Cordoba Province governor Jose Manuel de la Sota that reads in Spanish; "Stop looting and contaminating! Monsanto out of Cordoba and Argentina," is posted on a fence where Monsanto is building its largest seed production plant in Latin America in the town of Malvinas Argentinas, in Cordoba province, Argentina. The country's entire soybean crop and nearly all its corn and cotton have been genetically modified in the 17 years since St. Louis-based Monsanto Company promised huge yields with fewer pesticides using its patented seeds and chemicals. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this Sept. 23, 2013, photo, empty pesticide containers ready for recycling are collected inside an enclosure by the farming business association in Gualeguaychu, in Entre Rios province, Argentina. Widely ignored Argentine health minister guidelines recommend perforating empty containers to prevent reuse by residents. The association says the containers will be recycled into plastic tubing. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this Sept. 23, 2013, photo, empty pesticide containers ready for recycling are collected inside an enclosure by the farming business association in Gualeguaychu, in Entre Rios province, Argentina. Widely ignored Argentine health minister guidelines recommend perforating empty containers to prevent reuse by residents. The association says the containers will be recycled into plastic tubing. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this April 16, 2013, photo, Felix San Roman walks on his property in Rawson, in Buenos Aires province, Argentina. San Roman says that when he complained about clouds of chemicals drifting into his yard, the sprayers beat him up, fracturing his spine and knocking out his teeth. "This is a small town where nobody confronts anyone, and the authorities look the other way," San Roman said. "All I want is for them to follow the existing law, which says you can’t do this within 1,500 meters. Nobody follows this. How can you control it?" (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this April 16, 2013, photo, Felix San Roman walks on his property in Rawson, in Buenos Aires province, Argentina. San Roman says that when he complained about clouds of chemicals drifting into his yard, the sprayers beat him up, fracturing his spine and knocking out his teeth. "This is a small town where nobody confronts anyone, and the authorities look the other way," San Roman said. "All I want is for them to follow the existing law, which says you can’t do this within 1,500 meters. Nobody follows this. How can you control it?" (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this May 3, 2013, photo, students ride a motorbike past a field of biotech corn on their way to school in Pozo del Toba, Santiago del Estero province, Argentina. American biotechnology has turned Argentina into a commodities powerhouse, but the chemicals required aren’t confined to the fields, they routinely contaminate homes, classrooms and drinking water. Now a growing chorus of doctors and scientists is warning that uncontrolled spraying could be causing the health problems turning up in hospitals across the South American nation. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this May 3, 2013, photo, students ride a motorbike past a field of biotech corn on their way to school in Pozo del Toba, Santiago del Estero province, Argentina. American biotechnology has turned Argentina into a commodities powerhouse, but the chemicals required aren’t confined to the fields, they routinely contaminate homes, classrooms and drinking water. Now a growing chorus of doctors and scientists is warning that uncontrolled spraying could be causing the health problems turning up in hospitals across the South American nation. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this March 29, 2013, photo, former farmworker Fabian Tomasi, 47, shows the condition of his emaciated body as he stands inside his home in Basavilbaso, in Entre Rios province, Argentina. Tomasi’s job was to keep the crop dusters flying by quickly filling their tanks but he says he was never trained to handle pesticides. Now he is near death from polyneuropathy. "I prepared millions of liters of poison without any kind of protection, no gloves, masks or special clothing. I didn't know anything. I only learned later what it did to me, after contacting scientists," he said. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this March 29, 2013, photo, former farmworker Fabian Tomasi, 47, shows the condition of his emaciated body as he stands inside his home in Basavilbaso, in Entre Rios province, Argentina. Tomasi’s job was to keep the crop dusters flying by quickly filling their tanks but he says he was never trained to handle pesticides. Now he is near death from polyneuropathy. "I prepared millions of liters of poison without any kind of protection, no gloves, masks or special clothing. I didn't know anything. I only learned later what it did to me, after contacting scientists," he said. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this April 1, 2013 photo, Aixa Cano, 5, who has hairy moles all over her body that doctors can't explain, sits on a stoop outside her home in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. Although it’s nearly impossible to prove, doctors say Aixa’s birth defect may be linked to agrochemicals. In Chaco, children are four times more likely to be born with devastating birth defects since biotechnology dramatically expanded farming in Argentina. Chemicals routinely contaminate homes, classrooms and drinking water. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this April 1, 2013 photo, Aixa Cano, 5, who has hairy moles all over her body that doctors can't explain, sits on a stoop outside her home in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. Although it’s nearly impossible to prove, doctors say Aixa’s birth defect may be linked to agrochemicals. In Chaco, children are four times more likely to be born with devastating birth defects since biotechnology dramatically expanded farming in Argentina. Chemicals routinely contaminate homes, classrooms and drinking water. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this March 31, 2013, photo, Camila Veron, 2, born with multiple organ problems and severely disabled, stands outside her home in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. Doctors told Camila's mother, Silvia Achaval that agrochemicals may be to blame. It's nearly impossible to prove that exposure to a specific chemical caused an individual's cancer or birth defect, but doctors say these cases merit a rigorous government investigation. "They told me that the water made this happen, because they spray a lot of poison here," said Achaval. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    In this March 31, 2013, photo, Camila Veron, 2, born with multiple organ problems and severely disabled, stands outside her home in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. Doctors told Camila's mother, Silvia Achaval that agrochemicals may be to blame. It's nearly impossible to prove that exposure to a specific chemical caused an individual's cancer or birth defect, but doctors say these cases merit a rigorous government investigation. "They told me that the water made this happen, because they spray a lot of poison here," said Achaval. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • In this Sept. 24, 2013 photo, students play soccer during recess at a rural school near Concepcion del Uruguay, Entre Rios province, Argentina. Teachers say the farm that abuts their school yard has been illegally sprayed with pesticides, even during class time. In Entre Rios, teachers reported that sprayers failed to respect legally required 50 meter setbacks outside 18 schools, and doused 11 of them while students were in session. Five teachers have since filed police complaints. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this April 1, 2013 photo, Aixa Cano, 5, who has hairy moles all over her body that doctors can't explain, sits on a stoop outside her home in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. Although it’s nearly impossible to prove, doctors say Aixa’s birth defect may be linked to agrochemicals. In Chaco, children are four times more likely to be born with devastating birth defects since biotechnology dramatically expanded farming in Argentina. Chemicals routinely contaminate homes, classrooms and drinking water. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this Sept. 24, 2013, photo, a tractor used for spraying agrochemicals is reflected in a car's side view mirror on a road in Parana, in Entre Rios province, Argentina. Glyphosate represents two-thirds of all agrochemicals used in Argentina, but resistance to pesticides is forcing farmers to mix in other poisons such as 2,4,D, which the U.S. military used in "Agent Orange" to defoliate jungles during the Vietnam War. (AP Photo/Natcha Pisarenko)
  • In this May 31, 2013 photo, girls use slingshots next to a biotech soybean plantation in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. The country's entire soybean crop and nearly all its corn and cotton have become genetically modified in the 17 years since St. Louis-based Monsanto Company promised huge yields with fewer pesticides using its patented seeds and chemicals. Instead, the agriculture ministry says agrochemical spraying has increased eightfold, from 9 million gallons in 1990 to 84 million gallons today. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this Sept. 24, 2013, photo, a tractor known as a "mosquito" dusts a field near Parana, in the Entre Rios province, Argentina. Most provinces forbid spraying next to homes and schools, ranging in distance from 50 meters to as much as several kilometers from populated areas. But The Associated Press found many cases of soybeans planted only a few feet from homes and schools, and of chemicals mixed and loaded onto tractors inside residential neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this Sept. 25, 2013, photo, cattle are corralled near the town of Berabevu, in Santa Fe province, Argentina. As Argentine ranchers turn to higher-profit soybeans, formerly grass-fed cattle are fattened on corn and soy meal in feedlots. Argentina’s entire soy crop and nearly all its corn have become genetically modified in the 17 years since St. Louis-based Monsanto Company promised huge yields with fewer pesticides using its patented seeds and chemicals. Soy cultivation alone has tripled to 47 million acres, transforming a nation once known for its grass-fed cattle into the world's third largest soybean producer. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this April 16, 2013 photo, soybeans ready for harvest are bathed in afternoon light near Rawson, in Buenos Aires province, Argentina. American biotechnology has turned Argentina into the world’s third-largest soybean producer, but the chemicals powering the boom aren’t confined to soy and cotton and corn fields. They routinely contaminate homes and classrooms and drinking water. A growing chorus of doctors and scientists is warning that their uncontrolled use could be responsible for the increasing number of health problems turning up in hospitals across the South American nation.  (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this  July 8, 2013 photo, Dr. Andres Carrasco, a molecular biologist at the University of Buenos Aires, pauses during an interview in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Carrasco found that injecting very low doses of glyphosate, a weed-killer, into embryos can change levels of retinoic acid, causing the same sort of spinal defects in frogs and chickens that doctors are increasingly registering in communities where farm chemicals are ubiquitous. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this March 9, 2013, photo, residents gather to speak with Dr. Damian Verzenassi on health concerns they have about agrochemicals in the main square of Alvear, in Santa Fe province, Argentina. In the heart of Argentina’s soybean business, house-to-house surveys of 65,000 people in farming communities found cancer rates two to four times higher than the national average, as well as higher rates of hypothyroidism and chronic respiratory illnesses. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this April 16, 2013, photo, activist Oscar Alfredo Di Vincensi talks on a cell phone inside his tent during his one-man hunger strike demanding that agrochemical spraying not be allowed within 1,000 meters of homes, in the main square of Alberti, in Buenos Aires province, Argentina. Earlier this year, Di Vincensi stood in a field waving a court order barring spraying within 1,000 meters of homes in his town of Alberti; a tractor driver doused him in pesticide. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this April 1, 2013, photo, Silvia Alvarez leans against her red brick home while keeping an eye on her son, Ezequiel Moreno, who was born with hydrocephalus, in Gancedo, in Chaco province, Argentina. Alvarez blames continuous exposure to agrochemical spraying for two miscarriages and her son's health problems. Chaco provincial birth reports show that congenital defects quadrupled in the decade after genetically modified crops and their related agrochemicals arrived. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this March 31, 2013, photo, Erika, right, and her twin sister Macarena, who suffer from chronic respiratory illness, stand inside their home in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. The twins' mother, Claudia Sariski, whose home has no running water, says she doesn't let her children drink from the discarded pesticide containers she keeps in her dusty backyard. But her chickens do, and she has no other water to wash the family's clothes with. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • CORRECTION TO REMOVE SENTENCE ABOUT GLYPHOSATE, WHICH CONTAINS INCORRECT DATA, AND ADD A SUBSTITUTE SENTENCE - In this May 2, 2013 photo, empty agrochemical containers including Monsanto's Roundup products lay discarded at a recycling center in Quimili, Santiago del Estero province, Argentina. Instead of a lighter chemical burden in Argentina, agrochemical spraying has increased eightfold, from 9 million gallons in 1990 to 84 million gallons today. An AP analysis of government and agrochemical industry data shows Argentine farmers use twice as much pesticide per acre as U.S. farmers do. Yet Argentina doesn’t apply national standards for farm chemicals, leaving rule-making to the provinces and enforcement to the municipalities. The result is a hodgepodge of widely ignored regulations that leave people dangerously exposed. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this March 31, 2013, photo, Erika, left, and her twin sister Macarena, who suffer from chronic respiratory illness, play in their backyard near recycled agrochemical containers filled with water that is used for flushing their toilet, feeding their chickens and washing their clothes, near the town of Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. The twins' mother, Claudia Sariski, whose home has no running water, says she doesn't let her children drink the water from the discarded pesticide containers. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this March 31, 2013, photo, Camila Veron, 2, born with multiple organ problems and severely disabled, stands outside her home in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. Doctors told Camila's mother, Silvia Achaval that agrochemicals may be to blame. It's nearly impossible to prove that exposure to a specific chemical caused an individual's cancer or birth defect, but doctors say these cases merit a rigorous government investigation. "They told me that the water made this happen, because they spray a lot of poison here," said Achaval. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this May 3, 2013, photo, students stand outside their rural school in Pozo del Toba, in Santiago del Estero province, Argentina. Most Argentine provinces limit how close spraying can be done in populated areas, with setbacks ranging from as little as 50 meters to as much as several kilometers. But The Associated Press found many cases of soybeans planted only a few feet from homes and schools, and chemicals mixed and loaded onto tractors inside residential neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this Sept. 26, 2013, photo, Sofia Gatica participates in a protest to block trucks from entering the site where Monsanto Company is building its largest Latin American seed production plant, in the town of Malvinas Argentinas, in Cordoba province, Argentina. The country's entire soy crop and nearly all its corn and cotton have become genetically modified in the 17 years since the St. Louis-based company promised larger yields. Agrochemical spraying has increased eightfold. After Gatica's newborn died of kidney failure, she filed a complaint in Cordoba province that led last year to Argentina's first criminal convictions for illegal spraying. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this Sept. 25, 2013, photo, a protest sign directed to Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and Cordoba Province governor Jose Manuel de la Sota that reads in Spanish; "Stop looting and contaminating! Monsanto out of Cordoba and Argentina," is posted on a fence where Monsanto is building its largest seed production plant in Latin America in the town of Malvinas Argentinas, in Cordoba province, Argentina. The country's entire soybean crop and nearly all its corn and cotton have been genetically modified in the 17 years since St. Louis-based Monsanto Company promised huge yields with fewer pesticides using its patented seeds and chemicals.  (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this Sept. 23, 2013, photo, empty pesticide containers ready for recycling are collected inside an enclosure by the farming business association in Gualeguaychu, in Entre Rios province, Argentina. Widely ignored Argentine health minister guidelines recommend perforating empty containers to prevent reuse by residents. The association says the containers will be recycled into plastic tubing. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this April 16, 2013, photo, Felix San Roman walks on his property in Rawson, in Buenos Aires province, Argentina. San Roman says that when he complained about clouds of chemicals drifting into his yard, the sprayers beat him up, fracturing his spine and knocking out his teeth. "This is a small town where nobody confronts anyone, and the authorities look the other way," San Roman said. "All I want is for them to follow the existing law, which says you can’t do this within 1,500 meters. Nobody follows this. How can you control it?" (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this May 3, 2013, photo, students ride a motorbike past a field of biotech corn on their way to school in Pozo del Toba, Santiago del Estero province, Argentina. American biotechnology has turned Argentina into a commodities powerhouse, but the chemicals required aren’t confined to the fields, they routinely contaminate homes, classrooms and drinking water. Now a growing chorus of doctors and scientists is warning that uncontrolled spraying could be causing the health problems turning up in hospitals across the South American nation. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this March 29, 2013, photo, former farmworker Fabian Tomasi, 47, shows the condition of his emaciated body as he stands inside his home in Basavilbaso, in Entre Rios province, Argentina. Tomasi’s job was to keep the crop dusters flying by quickly filling their tanks but he says he was never trained to handle pesticides. Now he is near death from polyneuropathy. "I prepared millions of liters of poison without any kind of protection, no gloves, masks or special clothing. I didn't know anything. I only learned later what it did to me, after contacting scientists," he said. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this April 1, 2013 photo, Aixa Cano, 5, who has hairy moles all over her body that doctors can't explain, sits on a stoop outside her home in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. Although it’s nearly impossible to prove, doctors say Aixa’s birth defect may be linked to agrochemicals. In Chaco, children are four times more likely to be born with devastating birth defects since biotechnology dramatically expanded farming in Argentina. Chemicals routinely contaminate homes, classrooms and drinking water. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • In this March 31, 2013, photo, Camila Veron, 2, born with multiple organ problems and severely disabled, stands outside her home in Avia Terai, in Chaco province, Argentina. Doctors told Camila's mother, Silvia Achaval that agrochemicals may be to blame. It's nearly impossible to prove that exposure to a specific chemical caused an individual's cancer or birth defect, but doctors say these cases merit a rigorous government investigation. "They told me that the water made this happen, because they spray a lot of poison here," said Achaval. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Argentine farmworker Fabian Tomasi wasn’t trained to use protective gear as he pumped pesticides into crop dusters. Now at 47, he’s a living skeleton.

Schoolteacher Andrea Druetta lives in a town where it’s illegal to spray agrochemicals within 550 yards of homes, and yet soy is planted just 33 yards from her back door. Recently, her boys were showered in chemicals while swimming in their backyard pool.

Sofia Gatica’s search for answers after losing her newborn to kidney failure led to Argentina’s first criminal convictions for illegal spraying last year. But 80 percent of her neighbors’ children surveyed carry pesticides in their blood.

American biotechnology has turned Argentina into the world’s third-largest soy producer, but the chemicals powering the boom aren’t confined to soy and cotton and corn fields. The Associated Press documented dozens of cases where these poisons are used in ways specifically banned by existing law.

Now doctors are warning that uncontrolled pesticide use could be the cause of growing health problems among the 12 million people who live in the nation’s vast farm belt.

In Santa Fe province, the heart of Argentina’s soy industry, cancer rates are two times to four times higher than the national average. In Chaco, the nation’s poorest province, children became four times more likely to be born with devastating birth defects in the decade since biotechnology dramatically expanded industrial agriculture.

“The change in how agriculture is produced has brought, frankly, a change in the profile of diseases,” said Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez, a pediatrician who co-founded Doctors of Fumigated Towns. “We’ve gone from a pretty healthy population to one with a high rate of cancer, birth defects, and illnesses seldom seen before.”

Once known for its grass-fed beef, Argentina has undergone a remarkable transformation since 1996, when the St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. marketed a promising new model of higher crop yields and fewer pesticides through its patented seeds and chemicals.

Today, all of Argentina’s soy and nearly all its corn, wheat and cotton are genetically modified. Soy farming tripled to 47 million acres, and just like in the United States, cattle are now fattened in feedlots on corn and soy.

But as weeds and insects became resistant, farmers increased the chemical burden ninefold, from 9 million gallons in 1990 to more than 84 million gallons today. Overall, Argentine farmers apply an estimated 4.3 pounds of agrochemical concentrate per acre, more than twice what U.S. farmers use, according to an AP analysis of government and pesticide industry data.

In response to soaring complaints, President Cristina Fernandez ordered a commission in 2009 to study the impact of agrochemical spraying on human health. Its initial report called for “systematic controls over concentrations of herbicides and their compounds . . . such as exhaustive laboratory and field studies involving formulations containing glyphosate as well as its interactions with other agrochemicals as they are actually used in our country.”

But the commission hasn’t met since 2010, the auditor general found.

In a written statement, Monsanto spokesman Thomas Helscher said the company “does not condone the misuse of pesticides or the violation of any pesticide law, regulation, or court ruling.”

A house-to-house epidemiological study of 65,000 people in Santa Fe, led by Dr. Damian Verzenassi at the National University of Rosario, found cancer rates two times to four times higher than the national average, as well as thyroid disorders, respiratory illnesses and other afflictions seldom seen before.

“It could be linked to agrochemicals,” Verzenassi said. “They do all sorts of analysis for toxicity of the first ingredient, but they have never studied the interactions between all the chemicals they’re applying.”

Hospital records show birth defects quadrupled in Chaco, from 19.1 per 10,000 to 85.3 per 10,000, in the decade after genetically modified crops were approved. A medical team then surveyed 2,051 people in six towns, finding more disease wherever people are surrounded by farms.

In the farming village of Avia Terai, 31 percent said a family member had cancer, compared with 3 percent in the ranching village of Charadai. They also documented children with malformed skulls, exposed spinal cords, blindness and deafness, neurological damage and strange skin problems.

It may be impossible to prove a specific chemical caused an individual’s illness. But doctors increasingly are calling for broader, longer-term and more independent research, saying governments should make the industry prove the accumulated agricultural burden isn’t making people sick.

Legacy Comments1

Monsanto, genetically engineered crops, and agrochemicals - one solution to overpopulation. These crops are exported to the USA and the rest of the world. 2,4,D = agent orange. Buy organic and local when possible. Plant a garden, no matter how small, and teach your kids where food really comes from.

Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.