Today was the World Day of Non-use of Pesticides and the Mesa por la Soberanía Alimentaria aka Bureau for Food Sovereignty held a press conference, to once again denounce the indiscriminate use go Agrotoxins in El Salvador. It was led by Doris Evangelista, a member of the Mesa along with a family who shared their story.
Rosalía Grande López has lost three out of four sons to renal failure, and Oscar, her 4th son, is currently struggling with the disease and almost lost his battle with it two years ago. Rosalía’s house sits in the middle of sugar cane fields, in San Luis Talpa, a muncilaplity with some of the highest rates of chronic renal failure in El Salvador, a disease predominantly found in rural areas where people produce the country’s food supply.
“Sadly,” Doris reminds us, “Rosalía’s heartbreaking story is similar to thousands of other families, from Acajutla to La Union.”
She reads the press release; the facts seem unbelievable…
- Renal failure is the number one cause of hospital mortality in Salvadoran men.
- Worldwide, agrotoxics kill 335 million people/year, that’s 40 deaths/ hour.
- Monsanto, and five other countries, control 60% of the global agrotoxic market.
The public health system in El Salvador is free and provides dialysis treatments and medications to patients with the disease, however the majority of these public hospitals don’t have the necessary equipment and/or medication and therefore are unable to provide the prescribed treatments for all their patients.
Oscar is prescribed two dialysis treatments weekly, but usually the hospital runs out of medication, meaning it can only perform one a week, leaving Oscar to either pay $25-$50 extra a week for medication, or forgo the second treatment, which consistently is his only option.
In El Salvador, even though laws exists, even though the health ministry has demonstrated a strong correlation between agrotoxicos and renal failure and their use has been denounced by both the Human Rights Ombudsman and the United Nations, thousands of people continue to suffer and die as transnational corporations like Monsanto enjoy profits in the billions.
The Mesa is “very concerned that the use of agrochemicals is seriously affecting water, soil, biodiversity, the local economy and food sovereignty throughout the country.” Their concerns seem justifiable, especially with the large-scale sugar cane industry boasting that 2020 will prove to be their best harvest ever.
“They will applaud while we suffer,” lamented Doris, before concluding the conference with a shout out to government institutions and civil society to come together and strategize a campaign against Big Sugar, “because this” she says, “is also about the right to life.”