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By Silvia Ribeiro
The affected communities, especially in Argentina and Paraguay, have been saying it for years: glyphosate poisons us all and kills our children, women have miscarriages, many children are born deformed and others die from walking every day to go to school or to search. water, next to a GMO soybean field fumigated with glyphosate. Even in urban neighborhoods, such as Ituzaingó, Córdoba, mothers reported that their children die from GM fumigations. Responsible scientists, such as Andrés Carrasco, and doctors committed to the fumigated towns in Argentina, confirmed the data and added that the percentage of cancer in those towns increased notably, in some places more than 400 percent compared to the national average.
Finally, in March 2015, a group of experts from the World Health Organization, from eleven countries, declared that glyphosate is carcinogenic in laboratory animals and is associated with the development of cancer in humans.
On April 7, World Health Day, based on that report and data from the Network of Physicians of Fumigated Towns, the Trade Union Federation of Health Professionals of Argentina, which represents 30,000 doctors and health professionals, sued the Ministry of Health that the use of this pesticide was prohibited. They claim that glyphosate not only causes cancer. It is also associated with an increase in spontaneous abortions, genetic malformations, skin, respiratory and neurological diseases.
Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), added autism and celiac disease (gluten intolerance) to that list. Seneff has been researching the impacts of glyphosate for years and explains that due to the route of action of this herbicide, there is a high probability that it is one of the causes of these diseases and other metabolic disruptions.
Obviously, Monsanto and other manufacturers of pesticides are dedicated to reviling these studies and evidence, but the WHO report remains firm, and much more who is directly affected in their families and villages. Demands to ban glyphosate are advancing in Europe, Latin America and Asia. Colombia banned the use of glyphosate for fumigation to combat drugs. It is an insufficient measure, but very good news for the border communities of Ecuador and Colombia, which for years have reported that they are seriously contaminated with this poison, as a secondary effect of the supposed fight against drugs.
Glyphosate was used in many crops, but its use and concentration increased exponentially with transgenic crops resistant to this herbicide, since they allow much greater amounts to be applied at one time, rather than a little several times so as not to kill the crop itself. This intensive use has generated more than 20 invasive plants resistant to glyphosate in several countries, so now the trend is to apply it in bundles with other even more poisonous chemicals. It is a toxic spiral that hurts everyone and everything, only for the profit of a few multinationals.
In Mexico, the Network in Defense of Maize, in its national assembly in April, with the presence of delegates from communities and organizations from 26 states, took up this issue with great concern and decided to join the work to achieve its prohibition, as well as that of the transgenic. If the commercial planting of transgenic corn in Mexico is approved, in addition to the transgenic contamination of the seeds, glyphosate and other toxins will invade soils and water; tortillas and other derived products could be not only transgenic, but also carcinogenic, as pointed out by E. Álvarez-Buylla and E. González, from the Union of Scientists Committed to Society, UCCS. (La Jornada, Mexico, 4/17/2015: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/04/17/opinion/020a2pol).
The Network analyzed this as one more piece of the attacks on the communities and their territories, as well as the government programs to change their seeds for hybrids - and then transgenics - to make them addicted to synthetic fertilizers and pesticides from companies, a trap in which many have fallen. It adds to the brutal threat of dispossession posed by the secondary laws of the energy reform, which give priority and advantages to energy exploitation over their rights to land. (See document by Ceccam and Grain, Energy reforms, dispossession and defense of the land, http://www.grain.org/es/article/entries/5118-reformas-energeticas-despojo-y-defensa-de-la- social-ownership-of-land 2015)
Delegates from the Yucatan Peninsula denounced that in addition to the damage to beekeeping due to the intensive use of pesticides in soybeans and corn - legal and illegal, even transgenic - they suffer an invasion of stevia crops, causing more farmers, pushed by the need, abandon their traditional crops for cash. When they no longer interest the industry, they will end up as urban outcasts or semi-slave agricultural workers, as the San Quintín day laborers denounce and resist.
Demanding a ban on glyphosate may seem limited, but it is important for being a trigger and for our health. It breaks another link in the chains that want to end peasant life and leave us with no choice but to eat their poisons.
Silvia Ribeiro is a researcher at the ETC Group - www.etcgroup.org