On the whole, Argentina is a well off country. Dissect the situation a bit more and you see that’s not the case for everyone, and there are huge inequality gaps and crippling poverty. Been looking at Argentina’s poverty and inequality in the urban areas in Buenos Aires, but there’s also unrest in the rural/agricultural sector. Since everything is interconnected, there’s no way to understand poverty unless you address all the different stakeholders, and that includes looking at agriculture. (Read Peter Timmerman’s article on structural transformation) The Argentinian government used the logic of increasing the agricultural productivity as an anti-poverty policy, approving the introduction of GMO soybeans from the conglomerate Monsanto and its use of pesticides.
But the increase in agricultural productivity isn’t the only outcome of the introduction. In Córdoba, the rural northern province of Argentina, there is evidence of 40 times the normal cancer rate and childhood deformations where there has been aerial spraying. In Patagonia, land is being cleared and biodiversity is declining from the nearly 300 million liters of pesticides dumped annually. Campesinos and Amerindians have experienced violence and some tortured for refusing to allow land-grabbers to take their lands for these high-profit soya crops. The government’s stance has been in support of Monsanto: “People that are against the pesticides are against the poor people.”- Gustavo Grobocopatel.
This past weekend on May 25, Mothers of Ituzaingó and others protested against Monsanto and the government’s support of the company in front of their headquarters in Buenos Aires. One of the leaders of the movement lost her child to cancer and vows to keep protesting until Monsanto leaves for good.
For more information, look at People and Power‘s story on Al Jazeera.