Local doctors in the Canindeyú region of Paraguay are alleging that the use of the toxic herbicide glyphosate on soybean crops has caused the death of two children, and put 33 more in the hospital.
Two children (ages 3-yrs, and 6 mos.) from the same family suddenly died last week, one en route to the hospital, another just after being released due to a poisoning outbreak of glyphosate in the Huber Duré settlement. Their bodies have been sent to the capital of Paraguay, Asunción, for detailed autopsies which could confirm that glyphosate was the cause of death.
Government officials are trying to rule out herbicide poisoning; however, even before the autopsies are completed. They instead are blaming the children’s deaths, and the 33 additional illnesses, on a respiratory virus.
Marcial Gomez, leader of the National Peasant Federation, reported that the first symptoms were a high fever, and doctors in the area have not provided the correct level of care.
Gomez believes that the children lived very near vast fields of soybean crops that were sprayed with ‘a powerful herbicide’ to kill off the weeds before farmers planted, and this is what led to their deaths.
“The expansion of GM soy monocultures and their dependency on a single herbicide have created increased tolerance and/or resistance among pest populations, resulting in the need to increase the quantities applied per unit of surface and the need to apply other herbicides. This has caused a threefold increase in the import of agrochemicals in to Paraguay over the past years.
…Due to a combination of widespread corruption among local authorities, porous borders, and lax enforcement of environmental laws, more than 23 million litres of pesticides and herbicides are sprayed onto the Paraguayan soil every year, including several that are classified by the World Health Organization as extremely hazardous (like 2,4-D, Gramoxone, Paraquat, Metamidofos, and Endosulfan).”
The reported poisoning outbreak in Huber Duré is not the first case. Over the past few years, there have been many reports of poisoning, increased abortions, and the death of farm animals in the areas where heavy pesticide spraying is conducted. Following these cases, local residents protested, but authorities took no action to address their concerns.
Paraguay is currently supporting at least $160 million in RoundUp ready agribusiness as well as an additional $50 million in illegally imported agri-chemicals annually.
Hopefully the autopsies’ results will be reported to the families and the world, not shuffled under piles of government secrecy, so that Monsanto and their ilk can be tried with murder.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.