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Even in a context of a global pandemic, where all wills should be placed on protecting the health of the population, there are not a few producers who take advantage of the resources used to contain the spread of Covid-19 to fumigate without any type of control or scruple.
“Continuing with this production system that releases poison, not only does not reduce the chain of contagion, but, in reality, enables the development of serious respiratory diseases”, Warn the specialists.
The DNU 297/2020 establishes in its article 6 that the agricultural and food chains will be exempted from the “social, preventive and compulsory isolation”That is in force in Argentina. Unfortunately, the cold letter of the presidential decree protects those who privilege the economy of their pockets over the health of their peers.
“The first question to be asked is whether the production of agro-industrial commodities for export is part of the agri-food chain. Then, on the one hand, there is the Covid-19 with a special morbidity (ability to get sick) in those with problems in the respiratory tract, and on the other, the products used for fumigation, which we know are irritating to the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. And this is not a hypothesis, because the letterheads of the same packages say it. The next question that the system in general, that is, the political power and the rest of society, should ask is why expose people to chemicals that generate irritation in the two fundamental pathways of the coronavirus attack”, Informs Damián Verzeñassi, specialist in Legal Medicine and researcher in socio-environmental health issues.
“Despite the situation in which humanity is plunged in the face of the new coronavirus pandemic, based on which the national government established preventive and mandatory social isolation, the advance of light aircraft and ground machines with agrochemicals on the houses of the neighbors continues , putting the health of communities at risk”, Denounced in a statement the Provincial Board of Agrotoxics and Health of Santiago del Estero, alluding to the constant fumigations that were registered in El Bagual, Casilla del Medio, El Charco Bobadal and other places in the area, bordering Tucumán.
“The situation is worse than before, because justice is also in quarantine. When we make the complaint, the prosecutor tells us that he is alone because people work from home, and with the police, most are guarding the accesses. So the soybeans take advantage of it and put everything in it, they don't care, they throw the poison over your head. It's a disaster”Complains Sergio Raffaelli, the parish priest of Pozo Hondo and a leader in the communities' struggle.
The Mesa statement demands, “at a time when State agencies cannot cope with controls, and security systems are focused on the health emergency”, The cessation of fumigations and spraying in accordance with the application of the precautionary principle.
“In this context, continuing with a production system that releases poison not only does not reduce the chain of contagion, but actually enables the development of serious respiratory diseases. Those sprayed people have a higher risk of severe coronavirus infection than those who are not exposed.”, Highlights Verzeñassi.
Selva, a modest town of 2,500 inhabitants in the south of Santiago del Estero, had a few days ago the sudden fame that the sensational news grants: the alleged infidelity of one of its neighbors caused the total isolation of the town. But neither before nor after will the national media cover the daily drama.
“In the town of the novel, as we say to Selva, of the first nine days of isolation, in four the neighbors saw the applicator plane leave the hangar. In a context of pandemic and health emergency, this is very serious, because agrochemicals cause a weakening of the immune system. The neighbors send us videos of the planes passing over the heads of the boys. It's a constant situation”, Laments Virginia Toledo López, doctor in Social Sciences, researcher at Conicet and member of the Political Ecology Group, dependent on the National University of Santiago del Estero.
López prepared, together with a team from the Gino Germani Institute (UBA), a study that analyzed the risks and socio-sanitary impacts of pesticide spraying in the area, detecting that “the communities lacked the means, resources and information to report” the abuses of the producers. "We find many peasants deprived of their livelihoods by the advance of the agricultural frontier and that the growing social conflict due to the fumigations is not properly addressed”.
The same tragedy is repeated in every rural area of the country. In Entre Ríos, for example, on Tuesday 24, with a temperature that exceeded 30 degrees, a “mosquito”Dumped thousands of liters of insecticide near the house of Lidia Moreyra, in the area of the Sixth District, department of Gualeguay. Lidia, who is 50, lives with her 24-year-old son, her 91-year-old mother with Parkinson's disease, and her 70-year-old partner with a history of colon cancer.
“The smell made me sick, it caused me vomiting and dizziness, the strength of my legs was gone, I was in bed until the other day”, Says the woman, who since 2017 has denounced the applications in neighboring fields, without any response.
“It is paradoxical that, in times of pandemic, where we have stopped a country to protect our people, we not only continue with the model that makes us ill, but that, in the absence of controls, the exposure increases.", Says María Fernández Benetti, a lawyer from Entre Ríos and a member of the Coordinadora Basta es Basta and adds:"In times of coronavirus, agribusiness shows hypocrisy and contempt for life”.