You are currently viewing In Rafaela they want to authorize spraying 50 meters from schools and homes

The city of Rafaela, in the center-west of Santa Fe, has two strong political figures: the judge of the Supreme Court and specialist in environmental law, Ricardo Lorenzetti, and the governor, Omar Perotti. From the same city is the chemical engineer Horacio Beldomenico, who made a detailed report compiling 400 scientific studies that confirm the effect of agrochemicals from agribusiness on health and the environment. Residents of Rafaela are mobilized because the Municipality is close to authorizing fumigations just 50 meters from homes and schools.

Judge Lorenzetti lives in the Brigadier López de Rafaela neighborhood, bordering the municipal airfield, where, in addition to airplanes, land destined for soybean cultivation can be seen, fumigated with agrochemicals. In the same neighborhood is the water treatment plant, which provides water to much of the city. At the other end of Rafaela are the Barranquitas, Mora, Virgen del Rosario and Monseñor Zaspe neighborhoods, which also suffer from fumigations with glyphosate, atrazine and 2-4D.

The town had an ordinance from 2003 (with a regulatory decree from 2008) that limited fumigations to 200 meters, but in December 2021 -in line with the requests of the Rural Society, INTA agribusiness sectors and other large producers- – Rafaela councilors approved Ordinance 5331, which reduces distances to only 50 meters. It is a “regressive” measure, considered unconstitutional because the new regulations cannot reduce previous protection measures.

Horacio Beldomenico is a chemical engineer, director of the Chemical Residue and Contaminant Research and Analysis Program (Universidad del Litoral) and has been studying the effect of chemicals since the early 1980s. He published at the end of 2021 a systematization of more than 400 investigations and recent reports on the use of agrochemicals. “Impact of pesticides on food, the environment and health in Argentina. Bibliographic review and overcoming proposals”, is the title of the work, of 106 pages.

Confirm the presence of glyphosate in surface water, groundwater and even in rainwater in Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Entre Ríos. alert for the presence of the herbicide in mass consumption foods (fruits and vegetables) and denounce the presence of the insecticide chlorpyrifos in cereals for children. “We are giving babies a neurotoxic very powerful in food”, warns Beldomenico.

And he recalls a criticism that has been going on for decades and was never addressed by Senasa (Agrifood Health and Quality Service) or any other agricultural, environmental or health agency in Argentina. When measuring the dangerousness of an agrochemical, the Argentine State uses the so-called “lethal dose 50 (LD50)”, which only measures the acute effect and what dose of pesticide kills 50 percent of experimental animals. State control agencies do not take into account the chronic effect: how an agrochemical affects health in small doses in the medium and long term. “The agrochemical companies, and this form of production, are experimenting with us, with the population,” he denounces.

“There is no doubt about how harmful this model with agrochemicals is to health. Serious science, not business, has already confirmed it,” says Beldomenico. He explains that three pillars must be considered: environment, health and production. “In Argentina they only look at the production that generates dollars. The State should be concerned about health and the environment, but it is an interested party in the business, it is co-opted by the agricultural companies,” he summarizes.

“Rafaela without poisons, for agroecology,” is the name of the group of neighbors, neighbors, and organizations that formed to demand that Mayor Luis Castellano — an ally of Governor Perotti — and the Municipal Council repeal Ordinance 5331. They alert that the disputed regulations, suspended by municipal decree 52,670, could come into force at the end of this month. “This would imply a serious setback in the protection of the health of the population and the environment in the city,” they affirm from the group and call to sign a virtual petition.

They also claim to extend protection to health. They explain that the 200 meters established in 2008 “are completely outdated” because in the last 14 years hundreds of scientific studies have been published that demonstrate the serious impacts of agrochemicals on health and the environment. And they specify numerous court rulings that prioritize the health of people over business: “The Supreme Court of Justice of Santa Fe ratified in November 2021 the distance of 1,000 meters without fumigation in the town of Zenón Pereyra.” The same distance that Beldomenico needs in his study.

The neighbors also point out that in those hectares without fumigation it will be possible to produce agroecologically and demand that crops using agrochemicals be suspended at the local aerodrome (owned by the Municipality), which fumigates the southern neighborhoods of the city with poisons. “It is urgent that the Municipality of Rafaela comply with article 41 of the National Constitution, with the principle of non-regression and with the precautionary principle present in the General Law of the Environment. Health is not negotiated! For a city without poisons and with agroecology!”, highlights the Rafaela Sin Poisons statement.

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Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a freelance writer working on news website. He contributes to Our Blog and more. Wise also works in higher ed sustainability and previously in stream restoration. He loves running, trees and hanging out with her family.

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