HB4, other cost flour

HB4, resistant to drought and ammonium glufosinate, a more toxic herbicide than glyphosate, thus makes its way into bread. Straight to the table of poor childhoods. Marketed by Bioceres, licensed by the state. More pesticides on childhood dishes. Reaffirming the criminality of hunger.

It was 2016 and Gladys Arévalo, Nicolás’ mother, was sitting with a sign with a picture of her face, crying under a tree. “fumigations kill” said the cardboard that, next to the word “Justice”, was dated 04/04/11. That day, Nicolás died at the age of four in the local hospital, after inhaling pesticides from the neighboring tree.

Five years later, after the trial, Gladys declared to the press: “The poison killed Nicholas”. Meanwhile, Ricardo Prieto, a tomato producer, got into his colorful 4×4, after leaving for free, because the Criminal Court of Goya, in the province of Corrientes, acquitted him -in the first trial for homicide for the use of agrochemicals- for Lack of evidence.

Justice keeps failing

Prieto, who according to social organizations in the region used child labor in his plantations, had fumigated the tomato greenhouse without curtains, which allowed the dissemination of endosulfan. However – and despite the fact that Nicolás’s autopsy detected poison in his lungs – he was found not guilty.

Six years later, despite some small battles won in the jurisprudence, the Argentine Justice continues to decide in favor of those who violate article 55 of the National Hazardous Waste Law (24051) which provides for a prison sentence of three to ten years for those who “use of dangerous products, (including agrochemicals such as glyphosate and endosulfan), “contaminate in a way that is dangerous to public health, air, water and the environment in general”.

Argentine justice, by the work and grace of corporate interests -and the negligence and complicity of (mis)governments- has become justice (thus, with a lowercase letter). Then, Bioceres, the main supplier of agricultural defensives in our country, announced that there are already 25 millers processing it in the first pilot test of consumption of transgenic wheat in the world.

Doctors warn about GMOs like HN4 and pesticides

Despite warnings from country doctors, environmentalists and pediatricians that, in rural communities, the main areas sprayed with glyphosate, cases of endocrine disorders, neurological disorders, dermatitis, miscarriages, fetal malformations and cancer were reproducing, in October 2020 , o HB4 transgenic wheat was approved, which is accompanied by glufosinate ammonium: herbicide five times more toxic.

Many of the boys and girls who suffer from childhood cancer do so as a product of glyphosate and other pesticides that companies spray fumigating with impunity, poisoning the population, as in the case of Nicolás Arévalo. How is it possible that the government released the commercialization of HB4 without any type of inspection or control? How, what is being processed, packaged and marketed, and can it be found in any of the foods that feed our families?

HB4, resistant to drought and glufosinate ammonium, a herbicide more toxic than glyphosate, arrives like when a mother hides vegetables for her son to eat – marketed by Bioceres, processed by millers and authorized by the State, straight to the table of Argentines who, according to the latest INDEC report, need US$ 177,063 to avoid becoming poor.

Cheap food, enriched but poisoned

wheat, bread, pasta, folic acid, food, poverty, HB4, transgenic
The mother of Nicolás Arévalo, who died of endosulfan contamination.

In view of this panorama, it is not surprising that the main component of the basic diet of a population that is 60% below the poverty line are carbohydrates and foods composed essentially of wheat flour. For their cost, for their accessibility, are the noodles, biscuits, roasts, non-perishable foods chosen when multiplying like fish, dishes to share a stew. For this reason, after the 2001 crisis, in August 2002 Law 25,630 was sanctioned, which establishes the obligation to fortify flour with iron and vitamins.

As in 19 other Latin American countries, in Argentina flour must be added by law with iron, folic acid, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, to prevent anemia and neural tube malformations, such as anencephaly and spina bifida. Thus, the most vulnerable sections of the population, especially children, who cannot have access to foods naturally rich in folic acid, such as vegetables, fruits and iron and calcium, such as red meat and dairy products, are seen by law and at the level continent, compensated with the increase that the states have granted to flours. Foods that produce satiety, but do not end up nourishing. Like the health, distribution and development policies of Latin American governments that are and continue to be, given the suffering of their peoples, bread for today and hunger for tomorrow.

Consequences of glufosinate associated with HB4

Now, in this same Argentina that fortifies flour with folic acid and iron, in this same country where last year – and despite the drought – agricultural exports grew by 8.5%, the government adds a quota of HB4 wheat to infant flour: cultivation untested transgenic, rejected in other countries of the world, whose presence is unidentifiable in products because it is not flagged by food producers, nor regulated by any state agency.

Meanwhile, with a former CEO of Syngenta administering at Casa Rosada, without real knowledge of the consequences that this consumption can produce and, taking into account the consequences of glyphosate on children, the national budget allocated to children was reduced in real terms by between 13.3% and 22.2% according to the inflation index.

That the most vulnerable sections of the population have to eat only flour is very sad. That governments, as a solution to hunger, add iron and folic acid by law to flour, instead of redistributing wealth, resources and guaranteeing their basic rights is terrible and inexcusable. But that they make it possible to fumigate the villages, that they do not admit viable alternatives such as agroecology, that they give in to the lobby and allow HB4 to reach our families’ tables, that is another question. Hunger is a crime and indifference and silence in the face of so much suffering is complicity.


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