BUENOS AIRES, Argentina May 11, 2014 (AP)
By MICHAEL WARREN Associated Press
Dr. Andres Carrasco, an Argentine neuroscientist who challenged pesticide regulators to re-examine one of the world's most widely used weed killers, has died. He was 67.End of excerpt
Argentina's national science council announced Carrasco's death on Saturday. He had been in declining health.
Carrasco, a molecular biologist at the University of Buenos Aires and past-president of Argentina's CONICET science council, was a widely published expert in embryonic development whose work focused on how neurotransmitters affect genetic expression in vertebrates. But none of his research generated as much controversy as his 2010 study on glyphosate, which became a major public relations challenge for the St. Louis, Missouri-based Monsanto Company.
Glyphosate is the key ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup brand of pesticides, which have combined with genetically modified "Roundup-Ready" plants to dramatically increase the spread of industrial agriculture around the world. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other regulators have labeled it reasonably safe to use if applied properly. But few countries enforce pesticide rules as rigorously as the United States, and farming's spread has increasingly exposed people to glyphosate and other chemicals.
Carrasco, principal investigator at his university's Cellular Biology and Neuroscience Institute, told The Associated Press in a 2013 interview that he had heard reports of increasing birth defects in farming communities after genetically modified crops were approved for use in Argentina, and so decided to test the impact of glyphosate on frog and chicken embryos in his laboratory.
His team's study, published in the peer-reviewed Chemical Research in Toxicology journal, found that injecting very low doses of glyphosate into embryos can change levels of retinoic acid, causing the same sort of spinal defects that doctors are increasingly registering in communities where farm chemicals are ubiquitous. Retinoic acid, a form of vitamin A, is fundamental for keeping cancers in check and triggering genetic expression, the process by which embryonic cells develop into organs and limbs.
"If it's possible to reproduce this in a laboratory, surely what is happening in the field is much worse," Carrasco told the AP. "And if it's much worse, and we suspect that it is, what we have to do is put this under a magnifying glass."
It is because of scientists like Dr. Carrasco that the truth has been brought out into the light. Of course, Monsanto sought to discredit this scientist, but his study is proving to be correct. Glyphosate is poison. Is Argentina to now be Monsanto's new Vietnam?
Viviana Perez and her daughter Nadia
Are pesticides linked to health problems in Argentina?
By Linda Pressly
BBC World Service, Assignment
Could pesticides - their use and abuse - increase levels of cancer and birth defects? It is a question asked across the vast belt of Argentina where GM crops are grown. In Chaco, the Minister of Public Health wants an independent commission to investigate a growing health crisis.End of excerpt
On a hot, still day the buzz of a distant, small plane is just audible.
"They fumigate all around with airplanes", says Carlos Fria who is out shopping for fruit and vegetables in Avia Terai. This small rural community sits, slap bang in the middle of Chaco - the flat, sprawling, northern province that nudges the border with Paraguay.
Carlos lives near Avia Terai, and says agrochemicals are sprayed close to his home, contravening local laws.
"If the wind changes the agrochemicals come into the house. My uncle just died of cancer. My wife too passed away from cancer. Now many, many people are dying of cancer - it didn't used to be like that," he says.
Glyphosate Discovered In Mother's Breast Milk
Glyphosate is ubiquitous and bio accumulates. It is now being found in our lakes and streams and even in our urine. Monsanto LIE$.
The Price Paid For GM Soy Monoculture In Argentina
GM Soy Opponent Assasinated
EPA To Raise Limits On Glyphosate Residues
Public kept in the dark on Roundup link with birth defects - new report
Study links Glyphosate to Autism, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's