- Multinationals -

Pesticide Disaster in Paraguay

Posted by: Louis ( New York, NY ) on June 22, 1999 at 18:54:04:

Dear Friends,

What are a few hundred Paraguayan lives worth to Monsanto
and its subsidiaries? Not much, unfortunately.

We hasten to ask, if somewhat rhetorically, are the lives of
the rest of humanity in safer, more caring hands?

Let us at least be aware of the crimes committed against
humanity. The following report is taken from PANUPS.

Louis Blois

Pesticide Action Network Updates Service

Pesticide Disaster in Paraguay

June 21, 1999

An international trade union federation has called upon a
seed company to assume responsibility for the environmental
public health disaster created in Paraguay by its local
subsidiary. The
International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel,
Restaurant, Catering,
Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) is demanding
Delta & Pine Land, the world's largest cottonseed producer,
pesticide-contaminated cotton seed that its subsidiary
dumped near a
rural community in Paraguay. Delta & Pine Land is in the
process of
being acquired by the Monsanto Company through a share swap
to be
completed later this year.

Last November, 30,000 sacks of expired cottonseed, weighing
approximately 660 tons, were dumped near a small village 120
kilometers from the capital Asuncisn. The seeds were treated
with high
concentrations of toxic pesticides, including the
acephate and chlorpyrifos. The label on the seed sacks
states that the
acephate compound (trade name: Orthene 80 Seed Protectant)
material which may cause cancer, mutagenic or reproductive
based on laboratory animal data. Risk of cancer depends on
and level of exposure." The sacks were spread over
hectares and were covered with only a thin layer of soil.
The disposal
site is on private land in the center of a rural population
of three
thousand and less than 170 meters from a primary school with

Symptoms of pesticide poisoning such as vertigo, nausea,
neurological disorders, memory loss, insomnia and skin
appeared immediately in the surrounding population and
after the first rains.

On December 28, a local resident died. His official death
states that he was treated by the attending physician for
poisoning due to pollution caused by toxins of the Delta &
Pine Land
seed deposited on the property of Julio Chavez." According
to his
widow, he fell ill on December 26 and by the next day could
no longer
get out of bed. Mr. Ruiz, a father of five, was thirty years
old at the
time of his death.

Medical testing of the residents has produced irrefutable
evidence of
acute pesticide poisoning. The Ministries of Agriculture and
of Public
Health have acknowledged the results of the tests but have
not taken
action. The IUF has met with the Minister of Health and the
of Paraguay, and has helped to organize demonstrations and
support for
the victims of the contamination. Still, the government
refuses to act.

In August, the case will be the subject of an inquiry in
organized by the Ethical Tribunal against Impunity in
Paraguay with
the support of the Latin American Regional Secretariat of
the IUF.

The IUF is demanding:

* Immediate action to remove the toxic seed and
decontaminate the

* Immediate and comprehensive medical treatment for the victims;

* A program of long-term medical and environmental
including regular monitoring of water supplies;

* Adequate compensation for the victims, their families and
the wider

* Full and public disclosure of the circumstances
surrounding the

The thirty thousand sacks of seeds buried in the area were
part of a
larger shipment of 84,000 bags of Delta & Pine Land cotton
authorized for importation by the Paraguayan Ministry of
and Livestock in 1997. There is no information about the
location of
the remaining seed. The IUF is trying to determine if the
seeds were
already past their expiry date at the time of export from
the United
States and whether they were exported rather than destroyed
in the U.S.
where costly disposal procedures would have been required.

The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel,
Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) is
international trade union federation composed of 329 trade
unions in
118 countries with an affiliated membership of 2.6 million
members. It
is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Source: IUF press release, June 15, 1999.

Contact: International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel,
Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF),
Rampe du
Pont-Rouge, 8, CH-1213 Petit-Lancy, Switzerland; phone
(41-22) 793
22 33; fax (41-22) 793 22 38; email iuf@iuf.org; web site

Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA)
49 Powell St., Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94102 USA
Phone: (415) 981-1771
Fax: (415) 981-1991
Email: panna@panna.org
Web: www.panna.org

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