I have both United States and Argentine citizenship and I have been living here for almost 10 years. I am grateful for the medicine I have been receiving free to treat a chronic illness.
Owing to my concern over the problems which pesticides generate for the people of Argentina, I would like to be part of the solution along with you.
*I have taken the trouble to contract an environmental studies graduate student from the joint programme of San Martín and Georgetown Universities (who submitted his thesis last year on the “Implementation and Application of the Forestry Law of 2007”).
According to him, the **Rural Society Bill of November, 2013, is insufficient for the crucial problem of fumigation near populated zones nor does it tackle the systemic tension between the government authorities deriving from the conflicts inherent to the interpretation of Articles 41 and 124 of the National Constitution. Evidently the implementation and application are blocked if the municipal and federal authorities do not understand their roles.
Recently I had the good fortune to talk to an ex-official of the ***California Attorney-General’s Office who was in charge of the use of pesticides. In California (the most important agricultural state in the US with markedly progressive politics), all pesticides must be registered and all workers handling them must be trained, pass exams and be registered. California also has an unusual but apparently effective system (shades of Price Watch) whereby farmers are obliged to report to the government any visible infringement on nearby fields — some of them do co-operate with the government and the system has worked well until now, according to the ex-official.
The Georgetown/San Martín thesis does not cover how Argentina could finance the solutions to avoid the illegal use of pesticides. It does not behoove me to suggest a solution since I know next to nothing about Argentine law but perhaps pesticide owners could be made to pay a fee according to the number of hectares they possess.
By the way, the other day I met in the street a City legislator who is important in the Fundación Pensar. He said he knows I’m an “activist” and I told him I sent him, and Miguel Braun, Michael Warren’s AP agrochemical story and clearly they ignored these emails from me and the “open letter” on the same topic I addressed to them in the Herald months ago, as Braun’s article on Fundacion Pensar’s thoughts had zero to say on the issue, only on extracting cash from crops and increasing production. Nothing about the human lives affected by agribusiness, as addressed by Warren.
There will be hell to pay for years to come, in terms of public hospitals overflowing with the ill, etc. and ad nauseam if groups don’t rethink society’s poor on the borders of soy.
I shudder to think what’s going to happen if action is not taken soon.
Christopher E. Carpenter
* Request for Minimum Standards for Agrochemical Use with cursory analysis on a November 19, 2013 Law Project received from the Rural Society of Argentina
** Rural Society Law Project in PDF