Pesticides are found not only in agricultural fields, but also in private and public gardens, schools, shops, offices, supermarkets, and our homes.They are in the air, on land, in our water, in flowers, foods and in our bodies.
Pesticides have contaminated groundwater, streams, rivers and seas, and damaged our biodiversity as well as our health. Mutations have led to resistance in insects, weeds and fungi, and so more and more pesticides are required to overcome the effects of this resistance.
Among the many pesticides used in agricultural fields in Mexico, nearly a hundred are carcinogenic, some are mutagenic, and many damage the nervous and reproductive systems, among others.
More than 8 million people work in rural Mexico. Of these, 4 million are day laborers and about 1 million are children between the ages of 6 and 14 who work full time, like adults. These young people are more likely to die of poisoning due to reduced body mass and the malnutrition that affects most of them.
According to the Ministry of Health, between 1994 and 2010 there are records of more than 75,000 poisonings in Mexico. However, there are no deaths reported.
There has been no epidemiological monitoring nor statistics generated for those who have accumulated pesticides in their bodies for many years and who now experience chronic degenerative diseases. These patients represent a high cost to society whether or not they are receiving the medical care they require.
Today we are curing diseases from chemicals released into the environment 10 or 15 years ago. Meanwhile, there are more and more sick people and deaths that could have been avoided.
Ironically the same pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries that produce and control the seeds, herbicides, and insecticides also produce and control the medicines that are used to treat the diseases caused by their products. The business of selling these toxic chemicals without real concern for human health is profitable but also perverse and unethical.
Drastic measures are needed to begin to reverse this disaster. We urge that pesticides should be banned and that safe and sustainable alternatives must be adopted.
We should discard the model of "The Green Revolution" (funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, originating in Mexico in the 1950’s) because it favors monocultures and short term productivity over ecological and health concerns and because it promotes dependency on toxic products controlled by transnational corporations.
As expressed in Huichols & Pesticides, we believe that farmers, farm workers, communities and consumers have a right to be informed to prevent risks posed by pesticides, to receive training and technical assistance in eco-friendly alternatives, and to eat healthy and nutritious food free of toxic substances and produced without child labor.
The challenge is… to live without pesticides!