Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals

by Fundacion para el Desarrollo de Politicas Sustentables Vetted since 2017
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals
Protecting Communities Exposed to Agrochemicals

In 2018, FUNDEPS, in collaboration with other civil society organizations, made several reports to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) for its session No. 64.

Among other observations linked to ESCR issues, we criticized the current system of agricultural production, emphasizing the multiple effects on the right to health derived from the use of agrochemicals. We did recommendations regarding the adoption of a national law to regulate the use and application of agrochemicals, and we requested the revision and adaptation of national and provincial regulations to the new categories established by the WHO regarding the classification of agrochemicals. In addition, we recommend the adoption of measures to minimize the impact of the use of these chemical products for agricultural use and the performance of periodic epidemiological evaluations.

After analyzing the national report presented by the Argentine State, as well as the information received from civil society organizations, the UN Committee on Economic Rights, Social and Cultural, released its concluding observations on September evaluating Argentina’s implementation of the International Covenant.

Regarding agriculture, the environment and health, the Committee expressed concern about the increase in the use of pesticides and herbicides that include glyphosate, despite the serious adverse impacts on health and the environment of many of them, indicated as probably carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the WHO.

In this regard, the Committee recommended that Argentina adopt a regulatory framework that includes the application of the precautionary principle regarding the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides, particularly those that include glyphosate, to prevent negative impacts on health.

Committee's concluding observations were in the same line that our recommendations and it provides tools for us to demand that the Argentine State to enforce human rights standards in the area of ESCR.

Links:

In the beginning of October, we organized a workshop about agrochemicals, health and environment" in Colonia Tirolesa, a town located in the center of the province Córdoba. Its main economic activity is agriculture, in particular to the production of potato, soybean and corn. The meeting was an opportunity to continue learning from the experience of communities living near cropfields that are frequently sprayed with pesticides. During this encounter, community members expressed their concerns and feelings on problems, including diseases affecting them.

In addition, members of the "Epidemiology Group of Worthy Science" ("Grupo de Epidemiologia de la Ciencia Digna") from Cordoba and Buenos Aires, shown the results of the of the Environmental Health Surveys carried out in May 2017 in the neighborhood Estación Colonia Tirolesa, which includes about 76 families. The survey was designed to contribute to the visibilization of the health problems suffered by people who are exposed to risks and environmental damage, thus strengthening the fight against the hegemonic model of agricultural production. One of the most striking findings was that, in the past 20 years, the major causes of death were malignant tumors (30%) and respiratory diseases (22%), leaving cardiovascular diseases (19%) to the third place, being this one the main cause of death al national level.

FUNDEPS participated in the workshop by developing capacity-building among the community regarding their right to health and a healthy environment. We were in charge of teaching these rights and how the community members are able to claim for them. Also, we introduced them the possibility to present a local bill to ban the use of chemicals in crops near populated areas, to increase the protection they already have because of the provincial law.

There were also discussions around alternative ways of production, which do not harm the health or the environment, promoted by a local agricultural engineer. His talk focused on agro-ecological practices and how to apply those practices in the field.

Even though community members know that pesticides affect their health and environment, they were not actually aware until the results of the survey were shown. Beginning to take a real awareness of the dangers involved to being exposed permanently to agrochemicals, resulted on a very mobilizing event.

Also, during October, the environmental team of FUNDEPS met with neighbors of Falda del Carmen, another town in the center of the province, in order to further assist them in developing advocacy strategies. Taking into account that for the last year they reported health problems, related to the agrochemical spreading nearby fields, we considered necessary to start taking action together.

Mapping environmetal conflicts

In the last months we have been working in the mapping of socio-environmental conflicts on agrochemicals. Our objective is to identify and make visible the problems suffered by numerous communities from different points of the province of Córdoba with respect to the indiscriminate use and application of pesticides, as their human rights to life, health and a healthy environment are affected.

To achieve this, we are going to develop an open and public virtual platform (map) in which conflicts will be described in detail, in order to serve as a tool for information, education and awareness about the problem, as well as a resource to empower the affected communities to defend their right to health and a healthy environment.

Currently, we are at the stage of information gathering and systematization focusing on 15 communities in a situation of vulnerability: Malvinas Argentinas, Ituzaingo neighborhood, Canals, Chico Dike, Zipline Colony, Alta Gracia, Carmen skirt, Coronel Moldes, Marcos Juarez, Montecristo, San Francisco, Huinca Renanco, Morrison, Pozo del Molle, Monte Maiz.

In the next stage we will get in touch with some of the affected communities to learn more about their fight for their rights and hear their own experiences about the health and environmental problems they are dealing with.

Discussion of a future national law

In Argentina, the government wants to promote a national law to regulate the application of agrochemicals. Therefore, the Ministries of Agroindustry and Environment, together with other ministries and state agencies, prepared a "Report on Good Practices in the Field of Phytosanitary Applications", which was submitted to public consultation for a period of one month.

From FUNDEPS we developed considerations and critics to the report, among them:

a) the Working Group that elaborated the report is integrated in its majority by representatives of the land owners and farmers

b) there is no public health perspective, which must be included in the draft law

c) it does not take into account that sprays cannot be controlled (Why? Because as much as climatic conditions are taken into account, the chemical products that are used have persistence in the environment and are mobilized through water and air even after the application is made)

d) it does not contemplate the principles of prevention and precaution

e) it must be a law of minimum budgets, with the intervention of COFEMA

f) it does not contemplate a regime of infractions and sanctions, among others.

We will continue monitoring and monitoring policies aimed at a future national law, so that they are as participatory and protective as possible of the environment and health of all Argentines.

During the last months, we have started a project to make a mapping of socio-environmental conflicts in relation to the use of agrochemicals in urban, peri-urban and rural areas of the Argentinian Pampa geographical region. Through the use of surveys, we look to identify problem cases, a description of their characteristics, local information, their geolocation, normative and jurisprudence, among other risk criteria.

We have selected to investigate the last 10 years (2007-2017) to understand how the processes of community organization and resistance to the implementation of the agro-industrial model, have been developed in the region.

This mapping aims to develop a tool that contains important data that can be used to educate, inform and make apparent these conflicts. This tool is within a development plan that seeks to guarantee the right to education, information, and citizen participation in order to empower communities to be themselves to demand for the respect of their rights to the local authorities or in the courts, thus promoting access to environmental justice.

We believe that this project would contribute directly to the advancement of sustainable development and sustainable policy. The possibility of carrying out this survey and the development of this tool that will be reflected in a map of socio-environmental conflicts, will add another level to our work: the diffusion and visibility of these cases along with the use of this platform by affected communities.

This new level of work will be complemented directly with our efforts and will be constituted as a useful tool for the empowerment of communities, citizens and organizations for the purpose of demanding the protection of their rights.

Argentina has developed a agro-exporter model, with agriculture and cattery are the economic basis of our country. Nevertheless, in the last decades, industrialization of agriculture has brought as consequence a non-controlled used of pesticides, which have undeniable impacts directly in life, health and environment.

Many provinces have addressed this problem with legislation on use and application of chemicals, creating “Environmental guard zones” (buffer zones). Moreover, many cities and towns all over the country have created their own legislations with high standards and distances longer that the ones imposed by the provincial’s legislations.

This normative variety and disparity requires to be solved through a national law with guiding principles and uniform criteria in the fixation of distances for chemicals and pesticides application near urban areas.

We studied this topic on the document titled “Minimum standards on agrochemicals. A pending account”, elaborated by the environmental team of FUNDEPS. In the document, we address legal basis and testimony cases, such as Monsanto and Monte Maiz, which show the need of a national law with minimum standards of environmental protection.

In the pesticides matter, the precautionary principle should apply to national environmental policy and we are advocating for that.

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Fundacion para el Desarrollo de Politicas Sustentables

Location: Cordoba - Argentina
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @fundeps
Project Leader:
Juan Carballo
Cordoba, Cordoba Argentina
$3,954 raised of $10,000 goal
 
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