However, the worst omens were confirmed and it was, as they always have been, the towns affected by the massive fumigations the first to give the alert. From the Colombian peasants affected by the massive fumigations against the "illegal plantations" by Plan Colombia to the peoples fumigated throughout the "United Republic of Soybeans", shamelessly named after Syngenta, their demands have been heard during the last two decades. by all possible means: hundreds of mobilizations, resistance in the communities, legal actions, camps, pickets and thousands of expressions of creativity that even in the worst situations the people know how to express gave testimony of a resistance that has marked these decades by fire.
Today the World Health Organization has agreed to give a little reason to these peoples and reclassified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic." It is not the end of the story. But it is a milestone that confirms what Andrés Carrasco made clear 6 years ago with his research and that strengthens the resistance and above all the imperative need for a new agricultural model that precisely shortens the ten thousand years of agriculture of our peasants and peasants to feed, now seriously, the world.
What a compilation, as always arbitrary and incomplete, that covers the last 20 years of struggles, investigations and searches facing the great poison of our times.
The impacts of the fumigations on the Colombian-Ecuadorian border have been very serious. Popular, non-governmental organizations and, lately, representatives of the Ecuadorian ministries of Agriculture and Environment, have carried out studies and verification missions in the border area that have allowed to collect valuable information on the human and ecological damages caused by the fumigations throughout of the last three years.
Surfactants (POEA + Cosmo Flux 411) cause a decrease in the size of glyphosate droplets, an effect that allows it to remain in the air for longer and that air drift is significant even with little wind. Ecuadorian studies have made it possible to determine that five kilometers from the Colombian places that are sprayed, between 80 and 100% of the peasants who are in Ecuadorian territory suffer signs of acute organophosphate (glyphosate) poisoning. The signs and symptoms decrease as the distance of five kilometers from the fumigated areas is exceeded, which shows that these signs are not the consequence of natural diseases. The symptoms that the population presents after the fumigations correspond to syndromes caused by the inhibition of cholinesterase and the consequent increase in the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the nerve terminals. In particular, nausea, vomiting, abdominal spasms, urinary and fecal incontinence, bronchorrhea, cough, dyspnea, sweating, salivation and lacrimation, which are symptoms of muscarinic syndrome, are caused by stimulation of the parasympathetic system that, in severe poisoning, can cause bradycardia, conduction block, hypotension and pulmonary edema. On the other hand, the nicotinic signs, muscle spasms and fasciculations, weakness, hypertension, tachycardia and in severe cases, hypoventilation with respiratory failure, are caused by the stimulation of the ganglia of the vegetative system and the endings of the motor nerves. The third group of symptoms corresponds to central nervous system effects due to accumulation of acetylcholine: anxiety, restlessness, tremor, seizures, confusion, weakness, and coma.
The symptoms described above coincide with the medical reports found in the population living in the border area. According to studies carried out in Ecuador, the symptoms present in the population during spraying are five times more frequent than those found three months after spraying in those same communities, which results in demonstrating that spraying is the cause. of the sufferings of the population.
The blood studies carried out so far have shown that the population that lives on the border and receives the fumigations, has a number of chromosomal aberrations that exceeds the corresponding number of the unexposed population in a percentage that ranges between million 200% and 1,700% . In other words, these are people who have a risk between 12 and 17 times higher than common people of suffering from cancer, undergoing mutations and presenting abortions or embryonic alterations.
In a recent study carried out with 47 women, all of them who received the impact of the fumigations and suffered symptoms of intoxication, presented genetic lesions in 36% of their cells. The genetic damage in these women is 800% higher than the control group established by the Quito laboratory and 500% higher than the damage found in a population of similar characteristics in the Amazon region, 80km from the study area.
The population studied that received the impacts of the fumigations, had been affected with at least one fumigation nine months before, so it cannot be determined if the injuries produced are the effect of the impact received in the last fumigations or the product of the accumulation of fumigations. previous. However, it can be affirmed that subjecting the population to more fumigations may increase the risk of cellular damage and that, once permanent, cases of cancer, mutations and important embryonic alterations increase, leading to, among other possibilities, increase in the number of abortions in the area.
In a future scenario, the persistence of fumigations may translate into irreparable genetic damage for the population that suffers them. In the current scenario, on the Colombian-Ecuadorian border, 12 people have died associated with the fumigations. Each period of fumigation has meant an increase in the number of deaths at the border. Most of the people who die are children, the elderly or people whose immune system is weakened, Impacts on Ecuadorian health. Adolfo Maldonado, Acción Ecológica, Plan Colombia Border Fumigations, by December 2004, http://www.biodiversidadla.org/layout/set/print/content/view/full/10999
Biotech companies argue that when herbicides are applied correctly they do not produce negative effects on man or the environment. Large-scale transgenic crops favor aerial applications of herbicides and many of their accumulated residues affect microorganisms such as mycorrhizal fungi or soil fauna. But the companies argue that glyphosate breaks down rapidly in soil and does not accumulate in food, water, or the soil itself. Glyphosate has been reported as toxic to some soil organisms, be they beneficial controllers such as spiders, mites, carabids and coccinellids or detritivores such as earthworms and some species of microfauna. There are reports that glyphosate also affects some aquatic beings such as fish and that it even acts as an endocrine disruptor in amphibians. Glyphosate is a systemic herbicide and is carried to all parts of the plant, including harvestable ones. This is concerning as it is unknown exactly how much glyphosate is present in transgenic corn or soybeans, since conventional tests do not include it in their analyzes of agrochemical residues. It is known that this and other herbicides accumulate in fruits and other organs since they undergo little metabolization in the plant, which raises the pertinent question about the safety of treated foods, especially now that more than 37 million pounds of the herbicide are used. only in the United States (Risller and Mellon, 1996). Even in the absence of immediate effects, it can take up to 40 years for a potential carcinogen to act in a sufficient number of people to be detected as a causal agent, Miguel A. Altieri and Walter A. Pengue, “Transgenic soy in Latin America . A machinery of hunger, deforestation and socio-ecological devastation ”, Biodiversity, sustento y cultures, No. 47, January 2006. http://www.grain.org/article/entries/1090-la-soja-transgenica-en-america-latina -a-machinery-of-hunger-deforestation-and-socio-ecological-devastation
Indigenous communities and peasant movements in Argentina have denounced the health effects of soybean pesticides for a decade. But they always collided with the denials of three important actors: producers (represented in large part by the Liaison Board), the large companies in the sector and the governmental spheres that promote the agricultural model. The recurring argument is the absence of “serious studies” that demonstrate the negative effects of the herbicide. After thirteen years of soybean fever, for the first time a scientific laboratory investigation confirms that glyphosate (a fundamental chemical of the soybean industry) is highly toxic and causes devastating effects on embryos. This was determined by the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology of the Conicet-UBA (Faculty of Medicine) that, with doses up to 1,500 times lower than those used in soybean fumigations, verified intestinal and cardiac disorders, malformations and neuronal alterations. "Tiny concentrations of glyphosate, compared to those used in agriculture, are capable of producing negative effects on the morphology of the embryo, suggesting the possibility that normal mechanisms of embryonic development are being interfered with," emphasizes the work, which also emphasizes the Urgent need to limit the use of pesticides and investigate its consequences in the long term. The most widely used glyphosate-based herbicide is marketed under the name Roundup, from the Monsanto company, a world leader in agribusiness.
When the embryos were injected with highly dilute glyphosate doses (up to 300,000 times lower than those used in fumigations), the results were equally devastating. "Intestinal malformations and cardiac malformations. Alterations in the formation and / or specification of the neural crest. Alterations in the formation of cartilage and bones of the skull and face, compatible with an increase in programmed cell death. " These results imply, translated, that glyphosate affects a set of cells whose function is the formation of cartilage and then bones of the face.
“Any alteration due to cell division failure or programmed cell death leads to serious facial malformations. In the case of embryos, we verified the existence of fewer cells in the embryonic facial cartilages ", details Andrés Carrasco, who also highlights the existence of" intestinal malformations, mainly in the digestive system, showing alterations in its rotation and size ”.
Carrasco rescues the dozens of complaints - and acute clinical pictures - of peasants, indigenous people and fumigated neighborhoods. "The anomalies shown by our research suggest the need to assume a direct causal relationship with the enormous variety of known clinical observations, both oncological and malformations reported in popular or medical casuistry", warns the professor of embryology.
The investigation recalls that the use of soybean pesticides was due to a political decision that was not based on a scientific-sanitary study ("it is inevitable to admit the urgent need to have studied these, or other, effects before allowing their use"), it denounces the complacent role of the scientific world ("science is urged by the great economic interests, and not by the truth and the well-being of the peoples") and makes an urgent call to carry out "responsible studies looking for greater collateral damage from glyphosate", Darío Aranda, "The toxic of the fields", April 2009. http://www.pagina12.com.ar/diario/elpais/1-123111-2009-04-13.html
Glyphosate produces malformations in amphibian embryos and its effects warn about the consequences in humans. A scientific journal has just published the work of the Argentine Andrés Carrasco, who studied the effect of the agrochemical.
"Tiny concentrations of glyphosate, compared to those used in agriculture, are capable of producing negative effects on the morphology of the embryo (amphibian), interfering with normal mechanisms of embryonic development," warned in April 2009 the head of the Molecular Embryology Laboratory of the UBA and principal investigator of Conicet, Andrés Carrasco. It was the first time that a laboratory study from Argentina confirmed the detrimental effect of the agrochemical pillar of the agribusiness model. After the announcement, Carrasco was the target of a smear campaign by companies in the sector, the media and officials. Although the scientist clarified that it was a research breakthrough, the main question was the lack of publication in a scientific journal, which, according to the supporters of agribusiness and much of the academic world, would be what gives validity to scientific knowledge. A year and a half after that alert, last Monday, the American journal Chemical Research in Toxicology published Carrasco's research, which confirms that glyphosate produces multiple malformations and, with scientific analysis as proof, warns : "The results verified in the laboratory are compatible with malformations observed in humans exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy."
The ten pages of the scientific journal are full of technical terms that, in different ways, account for the negative effect of the agrochemical: microphthalmia (eyes smaller than normal), microcephaly (small and deformed heads), cyclopia (one eye, in the middle of the face, known malformation in medical clinic), craniofacial malformations (deformation of facial and cranial cartilages) and shortening of the embryonic trunk. And it does not rule out that, in later stages, heart malformations are confirmed.
"The most severely affected embryos lack eyes and nasal passages [...] Glyphosate interferes with essential mechanisms of early development leading to congenital malformations," explains the research, published in the scientific journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, of the American Chemical Society (ACS, for its acronym in English, an entity based in the United States, which has more than 160 thousand members and is a leading scientific society worldwide).
"The effect (of glyphosate) on embryos raises concern about the cases of malformations in humans observed in populations exposed in agricultural areas", remarks the scientific journal and explains: "Due to craniofacial defects observed in humans in agricultural areas we decided to explore if the genes involved in head development are altered with agrochemicals. We confirmed that both the commercial brand and the pure glyphosate produce head defects ”.
The experimental results were carried out in amphibian and chicken embryos, traditional models of study in embryology when investigating disorders in the development of vertebrates. "Due to the conservation of the mechanisms that regulate the embryonic development of vertebrates, the results of both models (amphibians and chickens) are equivalent to what would happen with the development of the human embryo", explains the professor of embryology at the UBA and Principal Investigator of the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (Conicet).
The scientific journal points out that progress was made in an unprecedented fact, of particular interest to the scientific field, which is to link malformations with the incidence of glyphosate in the increase of retinoic acid (derived from vitamin A, normal in all vertebrates and essential for the correct regulation of genes involved in embryonic life). “Small variations of retinoic acid produce malformations. Our work is the first evidence that the malformations produced by glyphosate are associated with retinoic acid, ”Carrasco explained to Página / 12.
After detailing to the extreme the ways in which the analyzes were carried out, the research problematizes the macro aspects of the Argentine problem: “The agricultural model based on the GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) technological package is currently applied without critical evaluation , without rigorous standards and without adequate information about the impact of sublethal doses on human health and the environment ”.
The research - which bears the signature of the entire Carrasco scientific team - recalls that in the last decade several Latin American countries began studies on the environmental consequences of the use of herbicides and pesticides and highlights that in Paraguay an epidemiological study in women exposed during pregnancy to herbicides confirmed 52 cases of malformations.
He also remarks that Argentina has a history that should have caught the attention of the control bodies. The increase in the incidence of congenital malformations reported five years ago by the biochemist and head of the Molecular Biology Laboratory of the National University of the Northeast, Horacio Lucero, and the situation of the Cordovan neighborhood Ituzaingó Annex (surrounded by soy and where they were detected cases of malformations and repeated spontaneous abortions).
“These findings are concentrated in families that live a few meters from where herbicides are regularly sprayed. All this information is extremely worrying due to the risk of inducing alterations in human pregnancy ", confirms the international publication, recalls that the scientific literature has already verified that environmental factors affect during pregnancy and, above all, remarks that" the human placenta has shown be permeable to glyphosate ”.
The work of the Embryology Laboratory of the UBA places special emphasis on the "precautionary principle", legislated in the National Environmental Law, which calls for protective measures to be taken whenever there are possibilities of environmental and sanitary damage. Carrasco's research, which provides new evidence, questions that “despite all the evidence reported in the scientific literature and clinical observations in the field, the precautionary principle has not been activated in order to realize the depth of impact on human health produced by herbicides in agriculture based on GMOs ”.
Andrés Carrasco insisted that his scientific publication is, along with other studies already carried out, "an alert that calls for the application of the precautionary principle throughout the country" and told Página / 12 that he made his research available to the Conicet authorities and of the Ministers of Health (Juan Manzur) and Science (Lino Barañao). "This investigation, along with other already existing ones, should urgently invite an open debate to society with the highest authorities," he claimed. It is necessary to end the silence, since the worst situation is the denial of what is happening in populations subjected to the impact of agrochemicals. ", Darío Aranda," Deformations similar to those of human embryos ", Page / 12 , August 2010. http://www.pagina12.com.ar/diario/elpais/1-151480-2010-08-17.html
The first recommendation is that society, public opinion, listen, recognize and know what we affirm from the academic and scientific field of health: pesticides are toxic, they are poisons and they are making us sick, the diseases that we see and have are not casual, are generated mainly by fumigation with these pesticides.
Due to the serious problem that we have presented here, and based on the application of the precautionary principle, we believe that measures should be taken to guarantee the right to health and a healthy environment for the populations of the fumigated peoples, our patients. It is urgent to advance in public restrictions on the use of pesticides since during at least 6 months a year and three times a month the populations of the Fumigated Peoples of Argentina are massively poisoned. Spraying by airplanes or helicopters has been shown to produce a “drift” of poisons that spread uncontrollably. In fact, the Parliament of the European Union through its Directive 128/09 has determined its prohibition throughout its territory, and established the requirement to adapt the regulations of each country in this regard, since pesticide sprays carried out in France were detected in Iceland in a few days.
That is why we believe that, considering the magnitude of the use of agrochemicals in Argentina and the fragility of health that is detected in the population of the fumigated towns, it is essential to prohibit, immediately, all aerial pesticide spraying in all the territory of the country. I National Meeting of Doctors of Fumigated Towns, August 2010, http://alainet.org/es/active/41935
The United States embassy defended the use of the disputed pesticide glyphosate before authorities of Senasa, the body responsible for guaranteeing and certifying the health and quality of agricultural production. According to a diplomatic cable from July 2009 leaked by Wikileaks, to which Página / 12 had access, the embassy made the decision to present its own studies to the regulatory body that had authorized the use of the pesticide after this newspaper revealed a scientific study warning on the possible toxicity of the product.
The US lobbying in favor of the pesticide manufacturer, the multinational Monsanto, took place six months after President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner ordered the Ministry of Health to initiate an official investigation into the possible harmful effects of the pesticide. The study, which is still being carried out, will serve as the basis to limit or eventually ban the use of glyphosate, if it is shown that it does indeed affect the health of the population, as suggested by the work questioned by the embassy. It was carried out by the toxicologist Andrés Carrasco with chicken embryos. According to the cable, for the embassy, Carrasco is a researcher for the "prestigious" Conicet and the "highly respected" University of Buenos Aires. But their study would not be "scientifically credible" because it had not been endorsed by those institutions or included in a scientific publication.
“Within scientific circles and the regulatory agencies responsible for approving the use of glyphosate in Argentina, it is accepted that the alleged study does not have scientific credibility. The results have not been presented for an analysis of methodologies, procedures and / or conclusions ", says the cable, Santiago O'Donnell," Glyphosate is untouchable ", Page / 12, March 2011, http: //www.pagina12 .com.ar / diario / elpais / 1-163729-2011-03-09.html
The World Health Organization (WHO), the largest international space in health matters, has just warned about the link between the herbicide glyphosate (the most used in the world) and cancer. He confirmed that there is "evidence" that the herbicide can cause cancer in humans and laboratory animals. "It also caused DNA and chromosome damage in human cells," warns the scientific work and details that glyphosate was detected in water, food, and in human blood and urine. Glyphosate is used massively in transgenic soybeans and corn (among other crops) and for more than ten years it has been denounced by social organizations, farmers, doctors and scientists independent of the companies.
As the cultivation of transgenics grew, and the use of pesticides increased, the complaints of damage to health and health were added. Emblematic case of Argentina is that of the Mothers of the Ituzaingó Annex neighborhood in Córdoba, which even led to a criminal trial with convictions for the producer and the fumigator. And scientific studies that reported spontaneous abortions, cancer, malformations and acute conditions, among other consequences, were also added.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is a specialized area of the World Health Organizations (WHO). After a year of work by 17 experts from eleven countries, on March 20 he issued an unpublished document: “There is convincing evidence that glyphosate can cause cancer in laboratory animals and there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans (non-Hodgkin lymphoma) ”. It details that the evidence in humans corresponds to the exposure of farmers from the United States, Canada and Sweden, with scientific publications since 2001. And it highlights that the herbicide "also caused DNA and chromosome damage in human cells" (a situation that is related direct with cancer).
The IARC-WHO recalls that, in studies with mice, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had classified glyphosate as a possible carcinogen in 1985 but later (1991) modified the classification. IARC scientists consider that since EPA's re-evaluation to date, there have been "significant findings and positive results to conclude that there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals" and state that studies in people reported "increased in blood markers of chromosomal damage ”after glyphosate fumigations.
The document "Evaluation of five organophosphate insecticides and herbicides" was published at the IARC headquarters in Lyon (France) and highlights that the evaluations are carried out by groups of "international experts" selected on the basis of their knowledge and without conflicts of interest. (It cannot be linked to companies).
The international organization recalls that glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world. It is used in more than 750 different products for agricultural, forestry, urban and home applications. Its use has increased notably with the development of varieties of transgenic crops and specifies that the agrochemical "has been detected in the air during spraying, in water and in food". And it recognizes that the population "is exposed mainly through residence near the fumigated areas." Specifies that glyphosate was detected in the blood and urine of agricultural workers.
With the new evaluation, glyphosate was categorized in "Group 2A", which means in parameters of the World Health Organization: "Probably carcinogenic to humans". This category is used when there is "limited evidence" of carcinogenicity in humans and "sufficient evidence" in experimental animals. The “limited” evidence means that there is a “positive association between exposure to the chemical and cancer” but that “other explanations” cannot be ruled out. Confirmed: WHO confirmed that glyphosate from fumigations can cause cancer, Dario Aranda, La Vaca, March 2015. http://www.lavaca.org/notas/confirmado-la-oms-ratifico-que-el-glifosato-de-las-fumigaciones-puede-provocar-cancer/