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8 de febrero | | | | | | | |

Interview with farmer affected by agrotoxics in Uruguay and update on the case

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A year after the serious effects caused by agrotoxics on the lands of seven farmers of La Armonía, Canelones department, Uruguay, the farmer who detected the damage back then was affected again and decided to stop producing in the area. The case is concerning and the producer to blame for the pollution continues fumigating as if nothing had happened.

The small farmers who lost their tomato crops in January 2017 are demanding authorities to act urgently once and for all.
Eduardo Casanova, who lives with his wife and small son lost eight hothouses used to produce pepper and tomato. On January 19 last year, he saw his plants were drying and the agronomist who advises him confirmed that the plants were burned, because there was an herbicide present in the irrigation water.

This meant the start of an extreme case which was covered by the massive media of the country. The dosage of the herbicide (Picloram) with which 64 hectares of maize were sprayed in a nearby field, owned by Argentinian company Esencia del Bosque, was eight times more than allowed, and polluted the water source with which Casanova irrigated his crops.

On January 22nd, 2018, a year after the sad episode, Casanova said to la diaria newspaper: “I couldn´t take it anymore and I left the land to pursue other paths, because it is impossible to work like this. Now I´m growing crops at my parents’ house, I have left La Armonía. If authorities don´t act, I don´t know what will happen”. “Out of the seven farmers there are a few who can grow crops, but others can´t. The spraying equipment continues operating as if nothing had happened. If the authorities don´t do something, there won´t be many people left”, added Casanova.

The farmer said that on October 30th, strong winds blew three hothouses and the rain fell on the lettuce crops. The article published in la diaria explains that Casanova assumed that the rain water would wash the herbicide away, but the poison was “reactivated and killed all the lettuces”, he said. “I don´t know what I´ll do, right now I´m going broke, I can´t continue like this”, he added.

Moreover, Casanova denounced that before the end of the year, the adjacent maize field was sprayed “two or three times” and in one of them he breathed the product and ended up in the hospital. “I was told that I would get the flu and that my throat would hurt, but what I felt was not the flu or a sore throat. I felt sick, vomit, diarrhea. I knew that it was because of the poison”.

On October 13, 2017, Real World Radio interviewed Casanova in the framework of the fifth edition of the Food Sovereignty Forum held in Uruguay at the Agustin Ferreiro Center, also in Canelones department. The National Agroecology Plan and the impacts of agribusiness were the key themes of the activity that gathered over 100 people from different parts of the country.

The activity was organized by REDES – Friends of the Earth Uruguay together with the National Network of Native Seeds, with the support of the Latin American Society of Agroecology, Slow Food, the Nutrition School of the University of the Republic, the Family Farming School, Agustin Ferreiro Center, the Metropolitan Comprehensive Program, the Network of Rural Women Groups of Uruguay (Via Campesina) and the Heinrich Böll Foundation of Germany.

In the article with la diaria newspaper dated January 22nd, Casanova said that the Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry “needs to find a way to control the situation”. “Unfortunately, large scale production of GM grains, soy and maize does not coexist with family farming. The choice is family farming or large scale agribusiness”, he stated. “If family farmers go out of business, what will we do with all the people crowding the cities?”, he concluded.

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Imagen: Real World Radio

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