Raise awareness of environmental health issues in order to better protect our children and future generations.

EMF Studies

13 April 2012

The Tobacco Fields of Argentina: Poisoned Workers and Children's Birth Defects from Pesticides

The following opinion, written by Daniel Daester and published in Le Matin Dimanche on 25 March 2012, concerns Monsanto which receives tax exemptions from the Government of the canton of Vaud, Switzerland. Since 2004, Monsanto has had an office for some 80 employees in Morges, a town of nearly 15,000 inhabitants on Lake Geneva. When offices were set up, the company specifically asked the economic promotion service of the canton not to announce this event and does not communicate with journalists probably due to the fact that Switzerland is not favorable to genetically modified organisms. (Reference: “Monsanto développe ses activités à Morges, en catimini” by Jean-Claude Péclet, Le Temps, 27 January 2009.)

« The Gift to Monsanto » by Daniel Daester

“Morges shelters Monsanto, an American multinational engaged in destructive health and environmental actions which affect a large part of the planet. 50% of scorched land in Argentina. Credits accorded to Indian farmers who must purchase its products, but who are unable to reimburse their cost due to poor harvests. These people will increase the ranks of the population of shanty towns. In Mexico, children’s feet are burned after crossing fields which have been treated with Monsanto products …

“Icmesa (Seveso), Union Carbide (Bhopal), Schmidheiny and asbestos … not to mention … the participation of DuPont de Nemours in the elaboration of Zyklon B with IG Farben. Every person, along with their families, who has denounced the actions of these criminal industries, has been left completely destitute. Morges and others, get rid of these monstrous companies. They do not bring anything and it does nothing for your image…”

We have seen how even one lone individual does not fear standing up to a multinational like Monsanto for injustices, taking the company to court, and being awarded damages.

Now, dozens of farmers in the Misiones Province of Argentina are suing Monsanto, Philip Morris and other American tobacco companies in a court in Delaware in the United States for having “knowingly poisoned” them with pesticides, causing “devastating birth defects” in their children.

According to the Courthouse News Service, 10 April 2012:   “The farmers claim the tobacco companies asked them to use herbicides, pesticides and other toxic products made and distributed by Monsanto on tobacco crops, and assured them the products were safe…

“Birth defects cited in the 55-page complaint include cerebral palsy, psychomotor retardation, epilepsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, metabolic disorders, congenital heart defects, Down syndrome, missing fingers and blindness.

“The farmers say the tobacco companies that bought their crops asked them to replace the native tobacco with a new type, used in Philip Morris cigarettes, which required more pesticides. They say the defendants pushed for excessive use of pesticides and failed to warn them of the dangers or provide them with information or protective gear. Most farmers in Misiones used Roundup, a glyphosate-based herbicide made by Monsanto, to kill weeds and clear tobacco fields, according to the complaint. Monsanto and Philip Morris told them to use glyphosate frequently and in quantities beyond that necessary for effective weed control, the farmers say.”

These companies also did not recommend protective measures to the farmers’ families, although they knew that fruits, vegetables and farm animals consumed by these persons would be contaminated with pesticides such as Roundup. Discarded, leftover pesticides made their way into water wells and onto non-tobacco crops.

The farmers claim that Monsanto and the tobacco companies, “motivated by a desire for unwarranted economic gain and profit” ignored health risks associated with these pesticides. They seek compensatory and punitive damages for negligence, product liability, breach of warranty, ultra hazardous activity, aiding and abetting, willful and wanton misconduct and violations of Argentine laws.

The CEOs will not be jailed and once again, the settlement will represent “a drop in the ocean” in the sea of profits of these multinationals which have destroyed the lives of farmers and their children.

Thank you also to Wake Up World for the article on this issue, "Explosive:  Monsanto 'Knowingly Poisoned Workers' Causing Devastating Birth Defects".

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