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Pesticide Illness Triggers Anti-Monsanto Protest in Argentina

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

 Sofia Gatica sits in the sun on a cafe patio in the Argentine city of Cordoba. She talks about raising her three children in Ituzaingo, a Cordoba suburb surrounded by soy fields. In the mid-1990s her oldest son became extremely ill.

"When he was four years old, he came down with the illness that left him temporarily paralyzed," she recalls. "He was admitted to the hospital. They told me that they didn't know what was wrong with him."

The Gatica family lived just fifty meters from fields planted with genetically-modified soy. Planes regularly flew overhead, spraying the plants with the herbicide glyphosate. Slowly, the entire suburb started getting sick.

"Children were being born with deformities," Sofia says, "little babies were being born with six fingers, without a jawbone, missing a skull bone, with kidney deformities, without an anus - and a lot of mothers and fathers were developing cancer."

In 1999, Sofia Gatica gave birth to her fourth baby, a little girl. Three days later, the baby died of kidney failure. The loss of her child prompted Gatica to take action. She decided to find out what was happening in her neighborhood.

"I went door-to-door and did a survey - asking each mother for the sick person's name, address, clinic, everything. And each mother sent me to another, and to another, and so on."

Major health consequences

Soon Sofia Gatica was joined by others. "The mothers started to come help me, to tell me, 'Look, I have another sick person.' They came to me by themselves and decided to join the struggle."

The group named themselves the Mothers of Ituzaingo. They took their survey to the government and demanded an immediate investigation. In 2002, the government agreed.    


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