By Dario Aranda
“I always tell people the same thing. I do not know about chemistry, I did not go to university, but I know what my whole family has suffered. They are living proof that agrochemicals are poisons that affect us. To all people who are not familiar with this model of agriculture, I always say the same thing: Do not trust these companies. Reject agrochemicals. Do it for the life of your children.”
Viviana Peralta is a housewife and mother from San Jorge, Santa Fe province, Argentina. She is the instigator of a lawsuit that achieved a favorable ruling and is the first of its kind in the country. The ruling limits glyphosate and agrochemicals spraying up to 1,500 meters from houses, implements the precautionary principle (given the possibility of injury, protective measures should be taken) and reverses the burden of proof. Victims no longer have to prove how harmful the agrochemicals are. Instead, agrochemicals companies and the Government now have to prove the safety of these products.
“It happened just a few weeks after my daughter Ailen was born. They started spraying nearby fields. I was sick every other day. At the hospital, they would tell me I was intoxicated or that I had allergies or respiratory problems. One day, they sprayed from dawn till night. That day my baby turned blue. I ran to the hospital, I thought she was dying. When I saw my baby like that, I said, ‘Enough. This cannot go on.’
“I decided to work together with the NGO Centre for the Protection of Nature (Cepronat) and present a request for federal protection. Judge Tristan Martinez ordered the suspension of spraying in our neighborhood, just outside the town of San Jorge (province of Santa Fe, the heart of soybean cultivation). We always say we are not against soy producers – we are simply caring for our children. And everyone here knows, when they spray, the kids suffer a lot. Despite this clarification, we were constantly threatened because it is a big business and the ruling affected economic interests. We based our request on Article 41 of the Constitution, which states that all citizens have the right to enjoy a healthy and balanced environment, fit for human development and that business activities must not compromise the health of future generations. Fortunately, the judge favored public health over an economic activity.
“In spite of this, soy producers and the provincial government appealed the judge’s decision. The evidence was strong though and in December 2009, the court of second instance ruled in favor of us once again. It was the first time in the history of the country that a ruling like this one was appealed and ruled again in favor of those of us affected by agrochemical spraying. Not only that, but the Court ordered the Government of Santa Fe and the Universidad Nacional del Litoral (UNL) to prove that agrochemicals are not harmful to public health. For the first time, the burden of proof is reversed. It will not be us trying to prove the consequences – especially because we have no financial means to perform scientific studies. Ever since the banning of the glyphosate spraying, our kids don’t get sick anymore. There aren’t any respiratory problems. We are happy.
Read full post at GM Watch