The cost of humano de los agrotóxicos. How glyphosate is killing Argentina

An emerging Argentine photographer has decided to make a report of the really tough ones. Like David against Goliath, his enemies are glyphosate and Monsanto.

Il glyphosate, one of the world's most widely used herbicides in agriculture, has devastating and dramatic effects on the health of people who are forced to live in contact with it. This time to support it is not aenvironmental organization or better yet, some agency headed by the World Health Organization. A reportage made by Pablo Ernesto Piovano, an Argentine photographer who in 2014 decided to document the condition of the population of his country who works or lives near the fields cultivated with GMO soybeans where massive doses of herbicides are used.

The human cost of pesticides

The report is called The cost of humano de los agrotóxicos, the human cost of pesticides, and was exhibited at the 2015 edition of Festival of ethical photography in Lodi. Piovano's photos are a complaint without appeal to Monsanto, the multinational that invented the GMO-Roundup combination, or the cultivation of genetically modified soy combined with the use of herbicide Roundup (to which soy is resistant) which contains glyphosate.

“This work was dictated by my love for nature. I worked to find evidence on this situation, spending endless days alone with my camera, traveling over six thousand kilometers on my twenty-year-old car, to make my contribution so that all this ends, "Piovano told Burn, the magazine dedicated to emerging photographers.

A brief history of glyphosate

The history of glyphosate begins in the fifties, but its commercialization with the name of Roundup by the Monsanto it started in 1974 in the United States as a tool to free agricultural fields from weeds. Then the thing "got out of hand" when the glyphosate started to pair with the genetically modified cereals to resist the pesticide. Today it is marketed all over the world and the patent has expired almost everywhere, including Italy where it is one of the best-selling plant protection products. In Europe there are fourteen companies that produce it.

The choice of Argentina

The Argentine drama began in 1996 when the government decided to approve the cultivation and marketing of transgenic soybeans and the use of glyphosate without conducting any internal investigation, but basing its decision only on research published by Monsanto - as reported by Piovano on Burn. Since then, the land cultivated with GMOs has covered 60 percent of the total and in 2012 alone 370 million liters of pesticides were sprayed on 21 million hectares of land. In those same lands, cases of cancer in children have tripled in ten years, while cases of malformations found in infants have increased by 400 percent. To say the least, the cases of skin diseases and respiratory problems found for no apparent reason in young people as in adults are incalculable.

A third of Argentines suffer from glyphosate

A recent survey, again according to what reported by Burn, calculated that 13,4 million Argentines (one third of the total population) suffered the negative effects of glyphosate. In the face of all this, Argentina has made no decision to block this drama, nor has it commissioned new studies to understand what is happening to the population. Indeed, today in Argentina there are 22 of the 90 million hectares of GMO soybeans in the world, according to the German weekly Die Zeit.

The reportage, however, did not go unnoticed by winning several awards such as the Festival internacional de la imagen, in Mexico, and placed third in the competition POY Latam, in the category "Carolina Hidalgo Vivar el medio ambiente". But the silence and strength of a multinational company of Monsanto's caliber are tough enemies to defeat, much more powerful than evidence and pain.