More than one hundred peasant and socio-environmental organizations support quarantine care, agree on the importance of health over business - as is the case with the coronavirus - but demand that a similar action be taken against pesticides.
“Who cares for us from the agribusiness pandemic?” Is the title of the statement from more than one hundred social, environmental and rural organizations that denounce pesticide spraying. Santiago del Estero, Santa Fe, Entre Ríos and Buenos Aires are some of the provinces where the agribusiness dumped poisons on the population during the quarantine. In return, family-peasant farming organizations pledged to maintain production and prices during the pandemic. In Misiones, the organization Productores Independiente de Piray (PIP-UTT) donated 5000 kilos of food in popular neighborhoods.
“While millions of Argentines and Argentines stay in our homes to preserve our health in the face of the global pandemic, agribusiness continues to irrigate our territories with pesticides that compromise our body's ability to deal with the virus,” begins the text signed by the Coordinator Enough is Enough (Entre Ríos), the Federal Network of Teachers for Life, the NGO Nature of Rights and Action for Biodiversity, the communication collective Huerquen, the Río Cuarto Sin Agrotoxicos Assembly and the Stop Fumigating Schools Campaign, among others.
Among the "essential" and excepted activities during the quarantine is "agricultural production", where there was no differentiation between those who produce healthy food, without poisons, and those who produce transgenics for export.
From the agribusiness, where the Mesa de Enlace and Aapresid (Association of Direct Sowing Producers) stand out, they began an advertising campaign where they are "concerned about health": they offer fumigation machines to combat dengue, they give away silos-bags (giant plastics where They collect the grains) to make protective clothing for hospitals and clinics, producers from Villa María (Córdoba) publicized the donation of transgenic corn in community kitchens. The Cordoba company Porta Hermanos, on trial for contaminating and making the San Antonio neighborhood sick, advertises a campaign for the donation of “solidarity gel alcohol”. The Chamber of Agricultural Health and Fertilizers (Casafe), where all the large agro-toxic and transgenic companies participate, sent a newsletter on April 7, World Health Day, with a call to wash your hands and take care of the coronavirus.
"If we really want to privilege the health of the population, we must prohibit them from contaminating us and making us sick with poisons, it is urgent to change the agricultural model," said Eugenia Boccio, one of the promoters of the writing. It is part of the Organic Culture Collective of San Jorge (Santa Fe), a city that accumulates complaints and fights against fumigations. He called for a broad view of the pandemic: "It is very good to applaud the doctors, but without the farmers who produce food we cannot live."
The Provincial Table of Agrotoxics and Health of Santiago del Estero denounced fumigations so far in the quarantine in the departments of Jiménez, Rivadavia, Ibarra, Belgrano, Río Hondo and Pellegrini. Cases were repeated in Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Entre Ríos and Chaco. "It is the tragic daily life of the fumigated towns, where around 500 million liters of pesticides are released every year," the organizations denounced and demanded the application of Law 25.675, which establishes the "precautionary principle": when there is a risk of affecting health and the environment, protective measures must be taken.
In Argentina there is numerous evidence of the effects of pesticides. From the complaints of the affected peoples (Mothers of Ituzaingó de Córdoba, neighbors of Avia Terai in Chaco and of San Salvador in Entre Ríos, among others) to the scientific evidence. In the "Toxicological Anthology of Glyphosate", Eduardo Rossi compiled more than 830 scientific works that confirm the effects on health and the environment of the most famous herbicide.
The organizations' writing cites the book "Transformations in the ways of falling ill and dying in the agroindustrial region of Argentina", of the Institute of Socio-environmental Health of the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the University of Rosario. They systematized information from more than thirty health surveys in towns and cities (within the framework of the Final Practice subject), and they account for the diseases that are repeated in the fumigated towns: spontaneous abortions, congenital malformations, oncological diseases, respiratory and lung problems .
“We know that every crisis is an opportunity. While agribusiness organizations use it to wash their faces in front of the society they poison daily; those of us who signed this letter ask our leaders, once again, to defend our health ”, highlights the end of the writing. They affirm that it is time to promote agroecology, with healthy food and at fair prices.
As an example of this other model, Productores Independientes de Piray (an organization from El Dorado, Misiones, part of the UTT) donated 5000 kilos of manioc, beans, corn and fruits to humble families. In the same vein, four family farming organizations launched the campaign "social commitment to supply", so that there is no shortage of food during the pandemic. It consists of maintaining the level of production and at the same prices that were before the quarantine. These are the UTT, the National Peasant Indigenous Movement (MNCI-Somos Tierra), the Federation of Federated Cooperatives (Fecofe) and the National Peasant Front (FNC).
By Darío Aranda