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The countryside defends a toxic agricultural model

The countryside defends a toxic agricultural model

Agrotoxics banned in Europe and free to use in Argentina. Herbicides and insecticides whose only acute (short-term) and non-chronic (sustained over time) toxicity are measured. And 108 "highly dangerous" formulations that multinational companies promote and market in the country. These are some of the highlights in an investigation by the Latin American Pesticide Action Network and its Alternatives (Rapal). In addition to the famous glyphosate, he denounces the use of the pesticides atrazine, chlorpyrifos, paraquat, fipronil and imidacloprid, among others. Responsible companies: Syngenta, Bayer-Monsanto, Dow Agrosciences and Atanor.

“Report on highly dangerous pesticides in Argentina” is the title of the research by Rapal and the International Pollutant Elimination Network (IPEN). There are 170 pages where they detail Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHP) used in Argentina. PAP is defined as pesticides that present high levels of acute or chronic danger to health or the environment. According to the International Pesticide Action Network (PAN), chemicals that are endocrine disruptors, bioaccumulative, very persistent in water, soil or sediments, and toxic to aquatic organisms and bees are specified as PAP.

The work warns that, in addition to extensive crops such as soybeans and corn, many pesticides are used in activities such as fruit and vegetable growing, which implies a great exposure not only of producers and workers but also of fruit and vegetable consumers.

The report takes as a reference the International Pesticide Action Network (PAN), which has a record of at least 299 dangerous chemicals. 42 percent of them (126 of those products) are used in Argentina. Almost all (123) are used in agricultural activities and in “garden lines” (home use). These products are sold under different trade names, which vary in presentation and manufacturing company.

If the list of agrochemicals is contrasted with some prohibition and those that are used in Argentina, the permissive national policy is evident: in the Argentine provinces 108 products are used that have restrictions abroad. On page 43 of the Rapal report the herbicides atrazine and paraquat are detailed, banned in more than thirty countries, including all of the European Union. Syngenta (a company of Swiss origin, acquired by ChemChina in 2017) does not sell atrazine in Switzerland, but it does in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay.

“There is a 'double standard' for companies. They are prohibited in the countries of origin and are used here given the low information, little pressure from consumers and the scant action of state agencies that must evaluate, register and categorize pesticides in Argentina ", said Javier Souza Casadinho, coordinator of Rapal and author of the investigation.

The most widely used and dangerous pesticides are glyphosate, atrazine and paraquat herbicides (used in soybean, corn, tobacco crops, among others). The insecticides cypermethrin, chlorpyrifos, fipronil and imidacloprid (used in vegetables, fruit trees, corn). And the fungicides benomyl and carbenzazin (mainly in vegetables).

"Benomil and carbenzazin are reproductive alters and are widely used in horticulture, and it is very possible that they reach consumers," explained Souza Casadinho, who is also a professor at the Faculty of Agronomy of the UBA. He highlighted that fipronil and imidacloprid, used in vegetables, fruit trees, soybeans and even in pets, are banned in Europe and are highly questioned because they affect bees (essential pollinators for humanity).

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On page 34 of the report, the companies that produce highly dangerous pesticides in Argentina are highlighted: Bayer / Monsanto (producers of glyphosate, inidacloprid, cypermetry, fipronil), Syngenta (atrazine, paraquat), Nufarm (imidacloprid), Atanor (glyphosate, atrazine) , Dow Agrosciences (chlorpyrifos) and Basf (Carbendazin), among others.

The work denounces the form of authorization of pesticides in Argentina. The State, through Senasa (National Service of Agrifood Health and Quality), categorizes the danger of pesticides according to the classification called "Lethal Dose (LD) 50", which only measures the acute toxicity of a product based on the dose with which 50 percent of a laboratory animal population dies. Nothing states about chronic poisonings, for example when people in a community are exposed to small doses for long periods of time or subjected to different types of pesticides that are applied for months or years.

Senasa does not take into account, for example, the endocrine effects of agrochemicals (alteration of the hormonal balance) or epigenetic diseases (incorrect expressions of DNA). Senasa, which bases its approvals on reports from the companies themselves, does not take into account the effect and accumulation of agrochemicals in water and soils.

It is a historic claim of the peoples affected by pesticide spraying: that chronic toxicity studies and environmental effects be included.

By Darío Aranda. Posted on Page 12

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