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“The optimization of production still gets priority over other things. And if someone develops cancer, or if a plane sprays a teacher, well, it’s the teacher’s business”, said Walter Miglionico, trade union leader of the Labour Health and Environment Department of the workers’ central union PIT-CNT.
Miglionico was one of the speakers during a regional seminar called “Agrotoxics in the Southern Cone: The Human Right to Water and the Right to Health Under Threat”, held at the PIT-CNT’s headquarters in Montevideo, Uruguay on July 17. The activity was organized by the Trade Union of Public Servants (COFE), the National Commission in Defense of Water and Life, REDES-Friends of the Earth Uruguay and Programa Uruguay Sustentable.
“I could come here on behalf of the Labour Health Department and on behalf of rural workers and tell them “stay calm, we’ll sort it out”. But I can’t. The fact is we are quite vulnerable to confront this issue”, said Miglionico. He explained that in the rural areas “there are three or four places where we have strong trade unions that have been able to at least ask for the equipment (to spray agrotoxics)”.
The trade union leader said the “regulation, something the agronomists ignore, is clear” and it mentions important preemptive measures in order of priority: “substituting chemical products; modifying the process, isolating the process”, while the personal protection will be used “as a provisional supplementary measure, if they other measures failed in terms of sources of pollution and the forms of spreading it”. But the compliance with the rules “does not matter”, regretted Miglionico.
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“Este triunfo de Uruguay debe ser un llamado urgente a analizar, revisar, renegociar o anular cuando corresponda todos los tratados bilaterales de comercio y de protección de inversiones que ha suscrito el país, antes de exponernos a nuevas demandas en las que podemos correr con distinta suerte que en la recién finalizada”.
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