Friday, March 26, 2010

Pesticide in Argentina

To go along with our unit theme of land, I found an article about the dangerous use of agrochemicals in Argentina. The article is an interview with Rodolfo Páramo, a retired pediatrician from the central Argentine province of Santa Fe. When he worked in a smal village in 1994, he noticed a high rate of birth defects. When he investigated, he discovered that the cause was the spraying of glyphosate, a toxic herbicide produced by the U.S. company Monsanto. The herbicide is sprayed on fields of soy, which cover 42 million acres in Argentina.
Mechanical crop sprayers called spiders or mosquitoes would spray soy fields and then return to the village spreading harmful chemicals. Some villages got wise and started to prohibit the storage or entry of the "spiders" into a town's perimiter. Paramo says that, of course, this is not the only case of harmful chemicals and refers to another example from India. Our book mentions other examples. Paramo says its hard to deal with because people know about the dangers but they're getting ignored. Soy is an important crop for Argentina, but the protection of life is more important.

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