Today is the 28th of the blockade against Monsanto in Malvinas, Argentina and around 50 protestors camping there have no intentions of going home any time soon. Citizens are making themselves at home near the main entrance of the new Monsanto plant currently under construction.
They are camping out indefinitely to protest the new GMO seed processing plant which is scheduled to open for business in 2014. Revolution News spoke with activist Celina Molina from Asamblea Malvinas Lucha por La Vida who said simply,
“We do not want Monsanto to install the 2nd largest GMO seed processing plant of Latin America in our city.”
The plans for Monsanto’s new plant show future construction of 240 silos for storage of chemically treated GMO corn. The silos have fans that are required to ventilate the shafts. GMO corn in an enclosed area tends to rub together and produce chemical dust which explodes without proper ventilation. People there fear that when Monsanto switches on the fans the local town of Malvinas will be engulfed in a cloud of chemical dust.
Monsanto has already done enough health damage to citizens of Argentina. They have witnessed the long term effects of exposure to Roundup for the past decade. Epidemiological surveys were conducted 2001-2002 in areas heavily fumigated with Monsanto Roundup herbicide. Results of the surveys showed alarmingly high rates of birth defects and malformations in children, cancer clusters and miscarriage rates 100 times higher than the national average. The onset of skyrocketing health issues in Argentina coincides directly with the rise of soya cultivation and spraying of herbicides near populated areas. Professor Andres Carrasco, Director of Molecular Embryology at the University of Buenos Aires conducted laboratory studies linking local health issues to Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup.
Monsanto has a terrible track record in Argentina and the citizens of Malvinas are not going to allow further expansion for the agrochemical giant without a fight. Videos of police repression of peaceful protestors on September 30, 2013 circulated online. Sofia Gatica, spokeswoman for Madres de Ituzaingo Anexo was injured during the clashes with police. Videos of the repression have since circulated online and more people are arriving at the construction site everyday to join the blockade.
Sofia Gatica from Madres de Ituzaingo injured & police repression:
Blockade w/ peaceful protestors & riot police:
Monsanto – Argentina Timeline:
1996 – Soya crops first introduced to Argentina along with Monsanto Roundup herbicides
2001 – Residents of Ituzaingo Anexo started noticing health irregularities in their neighborhoods and began their own epidemiological surveys
Also in 2001, Argentina defaulted on it’s foreign debt, country was in a state of economic upheaval & riots ensued
2002 – Results of surveys were alarming: cancer clusters, high rate of malformations and birth defects, miscarriages 100 times higher than the national average. Professor Andres Carrasco (Director of Molecular Embryology U. of Buenos Aires) performs lab studies linking health problems with exposure to Glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto Roundup). Local mothers formed activist group “Madres de Ituzaingo” and protests began.
2004 – First formal criminal complaint against local farmer & aerofumigation pilot, Parra, was filed for illegal pollution
2008 – Complaint filed against Pancello (another local farmer & aerofumigation pilot) for illegal pollution
2011 – Complaints from 2004 & 2008 are combined and a trial date is scheduled.
June 11, 2012 – Criminal trial against Parra & Pancello began
June 15, 2012 – President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner announced arrival of a new Monsanto plant to be built in Malvinas, Argentina. It will be the largest Monsanto plant in Latin America
July 2012 – Activist group “Asamblea Malvinas Lucha por Vida” is formed. Protests against new Monsanto plant construction began.
August 22, 2012 – Landmark verdict in criminal case against Parra and Pancello – both farmers are found guilty of illegal pollution and given 3 year suspended sentences. Both are given community service and banned from working with agrochemicals for 10 years but neither will serve jail time.
2012 – 2013 – Citizens begin to take legal action against Monsanto thanks to Parra & Pancello case. No compensation is offered to families of victims affected by contamination. Protests against Monsanto continue.
September 18, 2013 – Blockade in front of new Monsanto plant entrance in Malvinas begins.
September 30, 2013 – Videos of police repression at Malvinas circulate online, local well-known activist, Sofia Gatica is injured on camera by police.
Current – Blockade ongoing
“Las Malas Semillas” (The Bad Seeds) documentary about health issues caused by Monsanto’s agrochemicals in Argentina: