Campaign against Agritoxins to be launched in Juazeiro, Bahia

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

toxinsBy Luís Osete

Why is Brazil the largest consumer of agritoxins in the world? Are there any alternatives to the agricultural model which poisons crops in Vale do São Francisco?  Until when will we continue having to swallow 5 liters of poison every year? Questions like these have driven more than 20 organizations – social movements, associations, student groups and non-governmental organizations – to launch the Permanent Campaign Against Pesticides and for Life. It will be launched this July 29 at 9:30 at the Federal University of São Francisco (UNIVASF) in Juazeiro.

The initiative aims to strengthen the activities of the Regional Committee of the Campaign, broadening the debate on the impact of toxins on the health of workers, rural communities and consumers, as well as denouncing the lack of state supervision of the use, consumption and sale of agritoxins.

For Jozelita Tavares, Regional Coordinator of the Movement of Small Farmers (MPA), “the use of pesticides on crops here in Vale do São Francisco has become common practice, and it is getting more and more unsustainable owing to the resistance of the pests. The dosage of poison in fruit growing is continuing to increase. And the more venom is used, the more unexplained diseases and deaths arise.”

According to data from the National Union of Industry Products for Agri Defense, more than a million tons (the equivalent of more than a billion liters) of poison were thrown over Brazilian fields in 2009, bestowing on the country the shameful title of being the world’s largest consumer of agritoxins.

The Campaign sets forth the possibility of constructing a different agricultural model based on family farming and agroecology. According to Cleber Folgado, who is national coordinator of the Campaign, “producing healthy food on small farms based on agroecological principles while respecting nature and the workers is the only way of ending hunger and of guaranteeing a quality of life to current and future generations. It marks a break with the model [we have in Brazil] which concentrates wealth, expels the population from the countryside, and leads to poverty and poisoning.

In addition to the speeches made by representatives of local bodies that make up the Committee, the launch of the campaign will be mediated by interventions from Cleber Folgado and Domingos Rocha, president of the Union of Workers in Agricultural Businesses, Agroindustries and Animal Farming of the Juazeiro, Curaçá, Casa Nova, Sobradinho and Sento Sé municipalities (SINTAGRO).

Translated by Eric H