Woman Receives Anonymous Threats after Opposing Monsanto

Activist Post

After losing a 3-day old daughter to kidney failure, a woman named Sofia Gatica from Argentina made a decision to spearhead an anti-Monsanto movement with other mothers of sick children.

Monsanto is a biotechnology, agrochemical company which has been polluting the environment and human health with herbicides, pesticides, genetically modified foods, and other substances for decades. Numerous cases have been brought against Monsanto for biological damage and even death — such is the recent case in which farmers say the biotech giant’s creations spawned ‘devastating birth defects‘.

Near where Gatica lives, there are soybean fields covering the land where farmers spray loads of chemicals on the crops. The primary weed killer used on the fields is the one and only Roundup; the most popular herbicide used by farmers which contains the active ingredient glyphosate. Gatica didn’t initially connect the chemical exposure to her baby’s death until she noticed that many of her friends and neighbors were also experiencing health problems.

‘I started seeing children with mouth covers, mothers with scarves wrapped around their heads to cover their baldness, due to chemotherapy…There are soybeans to the north, to the south, and to the east, and when they spray, they spray over the people because there’s no distance,’ Gatica said to a Grist reporter.
In fact, researchers found that people in her area had three to four agricultural chemicals in their blood, including one chemical, endosulfan, which is banned in over 80 countries.

The researchers also found that 33 percent of the residents were struck with cancer. In other previous German findings, Monsanto’s Roundup was present in all urine samples tested at an amount of 5 to 20-fold the established limit for drinking water, showing how prevalent these chemicals really are.

In retaliation to Monsanto and their highly used chemical creations, Gatica worked to create an international movement against Monsanto with other activists. A few years ago, after co-founding a group called Mothers of Ituzaingó, she and her group initiated the first epidemiological study of the area which found high rates of neurological and respiratory disease, birth defects, infant mortality, and cancer rates more than 40 times the national average. She then continued to find researchers to study the links between pesticides, herbicides, and health problems, while engaging in protests voicing concerns over the issues.

‘We blockaded the spraying machines. We would get into the fields to block them. We carried out protests at the Ministry of Agriculture and the Health Ministry. We took sick people to the ministry,’ she said.
Over the course of a few years, mandatory buffer zones between aerial spraying and neighborhoods have been put in place thanks to the activist movement. In addition, Argentina’s Supreme Court decided that agrochemicals could not be sprayed near living areas.

However, while Gatica and other activists successfully created change, the process wasn’t necessarily easy. In fact, there were even direct threats.

“Somebody came inside my house with a weapon. I was told not to ‘screw around with the soybeans.’ I would get phone calls where I’d be told that I would only have two children the next day,” she said. “I had the police investigate this, but I was told that the file was secret,” she added after being questioned as to whether she ever found out who made the personal attacks.

Interestingly enough, previous research found that Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup exhibits direct toxicity to human cells, effectively killing them off even at low doses. The toxicity and negative impact on young children is even greater, and is most detrimental to infants or unborn babies.

Although Gatica started alone and was even directly threatened, she rose above these complications and effectively ignited change – she will not be the last.

Related stories: Monsanto’s Roundup Triggers Over 40 Plant Diseases and Endangers Human and Animal Health

WEED KILLER CAN CHANGE THE SHAPES OF ANIMALS

Science Blog, Apr. 4, 2012

The world’s most popular weed killer, Roundup®, can cause amphibians to change shape, according to research published today in Ecological Applications.
Rick Relyea, University of Pittsburgh professor of biological sciences in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and director of Pitt’s Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology, demonstrated that sublethal and environmentally relevant concentrations of Roundup® caused two species of amphibians to alter their morphology. According to Relyea, this is the first study to show that a pesticide can induce morphological changes in a vertebrate animal.
Relyea set up large outdoor water tanks that contained many of the components of natural wetlands. Some tanks contained caged predators, which emit chemicals that naturally induce changes in tadpole morphology (such as larger tails to better escape predators). After adding tadpoles to each tank, he exposed them to a range of Roundup® concentrations. After 3 weeks, the tadpoles were removed from the tanks.
“It was not surprising to see that the smell of predators in the water induced larger tadpole tails,” says Relyea. “That is a normal, adaptive response. What shocked us was that the Roundup® induced the same changes. Moreover, the combination of predators and Roundup® caused the tail changes to be twice as large.” Because tadpoles alter their body shape to match their environment, having a body shape that does not fit the environment can put the animals at a distinct disadvantage.
Predators cause tadpoles to change shape by altering the stress hormones of tadpoles, says Relyea. The similar shape changes when exposed to Roundup® suggest that Roundup® may interfere with the hormones of tadpoles and potentially many other animals.
“This discovery highlights the fact that pesticides, which are important for crop production and human health, can have unintended consequences for species that are not the pesticide’s target,” says Relyea. “Herbicides are not designed to affect animals, but we are learning that they can have a wide range of surprising effects by altering how hormones work in the bodies of animals. This is important because amphibians not only serve as a barometer of the ecosystem’s health, but also as an indicator of potential dangers to other species in the food chain, including humans.”
For two decades, Relyea has studied community ecology, evolution, disease ecology, and ecotoxicology. He has authored more than 80 scientific articles and book chapters and has presented research seminars around the world. For more information about his laboratory, visit www.pitt.edu/~relyea/.

Air pollution in Britain: state-sanctioned mass poisoning

The Guardian, Nov. 16, 2011

Successive governments have found that the simplest way to end urban poverty is to encourage poor people to live near congested roads. Apart from war and fags, nothing is more certain to shorten human life than to make people breathe a daily dose of poisons, especially sooty particles known as PM10s and nitrogen oxides that largely come from traffic and factories. The minute particles of partially burned diesel fuel and tyres travel deep into lungs and the gases trigger respiratory diseases. If you already have heart disease or asthma, then just living near a main road can be a death sentence.

In Britain, the environment audit committee has just produced a shocking report showing that 200,000 people can expect to have their lives shortened by as much as two years and everyone else have theirs curtailed by seven months for just breathing. In London alone, air pollution has been linked to nearly one in five deaths a year. This is in line with the rest of the US and Europe where last week the European Environment Agency [EEA] reported that air pollutants already lead to 500,000 premature deaths a year and are now a bigger killer than passive smoking, road traffic accidents and obesity together.

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How Plastic Food Containers Could Be Making You Fat, Infertile and Sick

sott.net, Oct. 27, 2011

In previous articles here, here and here, I wrote about the dangers of an environmental toxin called bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA is a chemical that is found in several plastics and plastic additives. It’s in the water bottles some folks carry to gyms, the canned tomatoes and coconut milk they cook with, and in the baby bottles moms use to feed their infants.

We’ve known for decades that BPA has estrogenic activity. In vivo animal studies and in vitro cell-culture research has linked low-level estrogenic activity associated with BPA exposure to all kinds of fun stuff, like diabetes, ADHD, heart disease, infertility and cancer.

There is now significant evidence suggesting that even low levels of BPA-exposure can cause harm, and this is particularly true in vulnerable populations like pregnant women, infants and the chronically ill. (1)

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“Smoking Gun” Documents Show Science Ignored in Approval of Cancer-Causing Strawberry Pesticide

FederalJack.com, Aug. 25, 2011

(EARTH JUSTICE) Newly released documents show that a Schwarzenegger political appointee within the state agency that approved the cancer-causing strawberry pesticide methyl iodide favored the input of the chemical’s manufacturer, Arysta LifeScience, over the recommendations of its own scientists. The new documents—released in accordance with a court order in the California-based litigation challenging methyl iodide—show that top scientists in the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) warned of the dangers of methyl iodide and strongly criticized the methods by which the “acceptable” levels of exposure were set by DPR management.

“These smoking gun memos show that state officials cherry-picked calculations to support their preferred outcome of approving methyl iodide instead of letting science guide their decision-making,” said Susan Kegley, PhD, Consulting Scientist with Pesticide Action Network North America. “Ignoring the science and prioritizing the needs of the manufacturer has put the health and safety of Californians at great risk.”

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BP disaster one year later

Aljazeera, Aug. 2, 2011

When news of the disastrous BP oil well explosion reached the residents of Jean Lafitte, Louisiana last April, Mayor Tim Kerner did the only thing he could think of to stop the oil from destroying his community. He encouraged everyone in his town to join him on the water, working day and night throughout the disaster to clean-up the spill.

Now, one year after BP managed to cap the runaway well that fouled the Gulf of Mexico with an estimated five million barrels of oil, most of those people are ill.

“I’m afraid my neighbors will come to me and say, I wouldn’t have listened to you and kept my job if I knew it would kill me,” Kerner said.

Kerner’s story was one of many shared by Kerry Kennedy, president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, at a briefing Wednesday evening, the day after she led a delegation to the Gulf Coast to assess the scope of the emerging healthcare crisis in the wake of the BP drilling disaster.

“The residents are sick,” Kennedy said. “They don’t know what the exact cause of their illness is, but because they never suffered this way before the spill and they were all out on their fishing boats throughout the clean-up, they suspect this has something to do with the toxins.”

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