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Organic Consumers Association

Poisonous Pesticides on the Doorstep

On the night of Mar. 24, life changed for the 70,000 people of this municipality in Puebla state, about 200 kilometers south of the Mexican capital.

An explosion at the Dragon Group's factory, which makes pesticides, weedkillers and fungicides, spewed out 300 kilograms of dimethoate, an organophosphate insecticide, that had toxic effects on some 750 people.

"The factory was shut down by the city council on the day of the accident, and after what happened we don't want it to operate again," retired high school teacher José Rincón, a member of the Citizen's Council of Izúcar de Matamoros, formed in response to the accident, told IPS.

Prolonged exposure to dimethoate can cause eye irritation, nausea, dizziness, respiratory failure and even death, according to the pesticide catalogue produced by the Interministerial Commission for the Control of the Production and Use of Pesticides, Fertilizers and Toxic Chemicals.

The industrial complex manufactured about 130 products containing dangerous active ingredients like pentachlorophenol, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), endosulphan and paraquat.

Fourteen of the company's products were classified as highly dangerous, 30 as moderately toxic and 37 others as somewhat harmful, according to the Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks (COFEPRIS).

COFEPRIS has authorized 7,313 brands of pesticides made by about 200 companies, including transnational corporations like Germany's Bayer and the U.S. Dow Chemical.


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