lunes, junio 20, 2011

The true cost of GM soy


Dear Friends and colleagues,

RE: The High Costs of GM Soy

The rapid adoption of GM soy may have brought about wealth to those who grow the crop but the “green gold” is also the source of despair to many living in its midst and to the environment.

Since GM soy came onto the scene in South America it has become common to hear of reports of people suffering from the devastating consequences of herbicide intoxication. Most of the GM soy grown is resistant to the herbicide RoundUp which therefore allows for its widespread use to kill weeds without harming the soy crop.

Besides the health effects the enthusiasm for the crop has also meant that more and more land is needed, often crowding out many rural communities and indigenous peoples from their land as well as resulting in encroachment on forests and natural habitats leading to biodiversity loss.

Such effects are happening in Paraguay (Item 1) and Argentina (Item 2) but the story is easily replicated across many parts of South America where GM soy has come to rule the vast lands in the continent.

With best wishes,

Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister,
10400 Penang,
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Item 1

GM soy: the high cost of the quest for 'green gold'
Louise Gray
The Telegraph, 17 May 2011

*Scientists and villagers in rural Paraguay are questioning the health and environmental impact of GM soy. Louise Gray reports.

The green shack where Petrona Villasboa lives in Itapua is surrounded by shimmering fields. It represents a lucrative golden harvest for some but, for this grieving mother, it has become a symbol of death. The crop that dominates this impoverished area of rural southern Paraguay is genetically modified (GM) soy, and she blames it for her son's death. "Soy destroys people's lives," Petrona says. "It is a poison. It is no way to live."

Sitting outside her home, the mother of eight describes the day in January
2003 when 11-year-old Silvino Talavera arrived home. He had cycled to the stalls by the nearest main road to buy some meat and rice for a family meal.

"I was washing clothes down by the river, and he came to tell me that as he'd ridden along the community road, which runs through the soy fields, he'd been sprayed by one of the 'mosquitoes'," she says. (''Mosquitoes'' are what locals call the pesticide or herbicide crop-spraying machines pulled by tractors.) "He smelt so bad that he took his clothes off and jumped straight in the water."

Petrona did not think much more about it. For peasant communities living amid the soy fields, chemical spraying is a frequent occurrence. But later that day, she says the whole family fell ill after eating the food that Silvino had bought.

"Silvino was violently sick. He said, 'Mummy, my bones ache' and then his skin went black'," she says.

By the time they had begged a lift to the nearest hospital. Silvino was unable to move. His stomach was pumped, but he had lost consciousness. Petrona was told her son was ''paralysed by intoxication''. All doctors could do was to offer pain relief. Within a few hours he was dead.

Item 2

15 years of GM soybeans in Argentina
The true cost of monoculture

Dario Aranda and Nina Holland
Mondiall News, 7 June 2011

*Intoxication, massive clearing, loss of biodiversity, forced evictions, land concentration and murder. The dark sides of 15 years of soy monoculture, a model driven by businesses and governments.

The only scientific evidence for the approval of GM soy in Argentina were research data provided by Monsanto. Monsanto produces both soy seed as well as the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate), a product that GM soy has been made resistant to. The “scientific” dossier with data on Roundup Ready soy's safety counts only 146 pages. The approval took place in record time: 81 days during the summer of 1996. Since then, RoundupReady soy is cultivated on a large scale - and the use of Roundup has also increased exponentially.

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