Thursday, April 19, 2012

Does Argentina Have Better Pesticide Regulations Than We Do?

On Monday night environmentalists gathered from around the world to honor winners of the Goldman Awards, one of the world's highest environmental prizes. Among them was Argentinian Sofia Gatica who won the prize for the continent of South America for her work in documenting the devastating effects of Roundup (which contains glyphosate) in her local community.

This is, of course, the same toxic herbicide California wine grape growers spray 400-450,000 pounds of annually on state vineyards.

Gatica herself lost a daughter, who lived only 3 days, before asking other mothers in the area about health problems in their families. When the group of mothers found that their area had more than 41 times the number of birth defects as was normal in Argentina, 16 of the mothers formed the Mothers of Ituzaing√≥ to organize against the indiscriminate use of the pesticide in Argentina where 50 million gallons are used annually, mostly in soybeans.

In the U.S., $5 billion is spent on the Monsanto-produced herbicide, more than a quarter of global sales by  price. In 2007, the EPA estimated that 180-185 million pounds of it were used in the U.S. It can be applied by hand-sprayer or in aerial spraying.

Argentinian scientist and researcher Carrasco (featured in the video above) has documented the harmful effects of glysophate in Argentina, including birth defects.

Gatica and allies worked to pass legislation outlawing the aerial fumigation of glyphosate and other dangerous agricultural pesticides and herbicides. Legislation also does not allow spraying within 2,500 meters of residents.

That would appear to be better than we have it in here in California. In a recent interview I conducted with Paul Towers of the Pesticide Action Network, Towers said the Wine Institute has opposed Californians' attempts to pass legislation creating buffer zones and to restrict aerial application of pesticides.

You can, of course, help grow California's organic viticulture movement (where no Roundup can be used) by buying wines made with organic grapes.

Watch Gatica's story here (below in the video) or read more on the Goldman Prize site here:

Gatica with mothers, studying chart of diseases and birth defects in their neighborhood
Photo of tumor caused by glysophate in Argentina, from Dr. Graciela Gomez
I've contacted a pesticide expert to find out more specific information on dosage comparisons and will followup with a post later.

The Ecology Center has a good, succinct fact sheet on Roundup.

The GLS Bank of Germany has a good review of the scientific literature on Roundup.
GLS Report

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