Declaration of 2nd MEETING OF PHYSICIANS OF SPRAYED AND FUMIGATED TOWNS AND VILLAGES

2° encuentro - Medicos de pueblos Fumigados

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Members of the health teams of aerolized, spryed or fumigated with pesticidas Towns and villages of Argentina, together with scientists, researchers and academics gathered at the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the National University of Rosario, reaffirm the following certainties expressed in the Declaration of our previous meeting in August 2010, at the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the Córdoba University:

That the effect on health in populations located in areas subjected to constant fumigation in Argentina is  considerable, and that the situation is worsening day by day, with more frequent cases of severe diseases such as cancer, spontaneous abortions, fertility disorders and births of children with congenital malformations.

That different health conditions, such as respiratory, endocrine, neurological, hematological and psychological conditions, are much more frequent in populations systematically sprayed as a result of the current agro-industrial model of production.

That the use of pesticides is increasing every year, with a consumption growth of 74% during the last season, as 340 million liters of poison was sprayed over an area inhabited by more than 12 million people.

map of soybean crops, Argentina: last five seasons

That availing a strong enough set of data that cannot be denied to objectively analyze the health status of our people, the scientific information explains the biological cause of the clinical manifestations observed in our patients, and systematic reviews of clinical and epidemiological observations generate sufficiently strong and consistent evidence.

That as much as we would have wanted a different reality, the only truth is what we know today: the current agricultural production system is responsible for causing these health problems, as well as other serious ecological and sociological problems not mentioned here.

Promptly, we called upon the highest national authorities so that they use the “precautionary principle” with the aim of protecting the rural population, in order to impose public restrictions on the use of pesticides; claim that has been totally ignored.

Nor was there a Parliamentary engagement for the right to health; unfortunately, in Congress, rights to private property and agribusiness continue to prevail.

For this reason, and considering that we are immersed in an electoral process, we address directly all candidates aspiring to govern the country and the agricultural provinces, saying they will be able to hear many voices biased by economic, commercial or political interests; but we, physicians, health team members, researchers, scientists and academics who have analyzed this problem, do not only believe, but are sure that the growing health conditions of the inhabitants of the sprayed villages are generated by spraying. This certainty comes from knowing how the health of our communities evolves, through comparisons with the growing scientific information, and only focusing our interest in the health and quality of life of our people.

Therefore, we urge the candidates for President and Governors to take into account this reality; we ask them to consider not only the fact that Argentina takes advantage of an international context of speculative commodity price soaring along with a sustained demand, but that this context generates foreign exchange in a system without any real control, shaped by multinational laboratories that promote the use of more and more pesticides that destroy the environment, and affect people generating cancers in our patients and malformations in their (our) children. We demand that the candidates express themselves publicly about how they will protect the health and lives of the Fumigated Populations. We propose as an urgent response to this problem, to FORBID aerial spraying throughout the national territory – as established in the European Union – and restrict ground spraying to grounds situated further from urban populations.

We are concerned that the claims and actions of the affected people, our patients, are repressed and prosecuted in order to stop their growing demands for compensation and defense of their legitimate right to health. We demand the State to ensure these rights and to take the urgent appropriate measures.

On the other hand, we demand a reclassification of pesticides considering the acute medium and long term effects of the use of fumigation observed in lab tests and in human studies. We therefore request that the responsibility for authorizing or rejecting the use of each pesticide depend on the decision of a State Agency for Health and Environment (as is the case in Canada),  not to the Agriculture State Agencies, who privilege the growers and the pesticide producers production and trade needs over people’s right to health.

Finally, we recognize the efforts of all members of health teams and the residents of the affected towns who understand that in this democracy we need to prioritize health and environment values over those of economic interests, big business, companies and seed pools.

Rosario, 29th April 2011

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