Letters — 13 May 2017
Belizeans, arise from your slumber

Dear Editor, and Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, (I am responding to an article reprinted from Counterpunch in the Amandala edition of March 24, 2017: “Stop protecting the criminality of the global pesticides industry”.)

Since its publication on March 24, the International Court of Justice Tribunal against Monsanto has issued its verdicts. The Tribunal concludes that Monsanto has engaged in practices which have negatively impacted the right to a healthy environment, the right to food, the right to health, and the right to freedom of expression, as well as the right to information.

Further, the Tribunal assesses that international law should now precisely and clearly assert the protection of the environment and the crime of ecocide – willful destruction of the natural environment. The Tribunal concludes “that if such a crime of ecocide were recognized in international criminal law, the activities of Monsanto could possibly constitute a crime of ecocide. Several of the company’s activities may fall within this infraction, such as the manufacture and supply of glyphosate-based herbicides to Colombia in the context of its plan for aerial application on coca crops, which negatively impacted the environment and the health of local populations; the large-scale use of dangerous agrochemicals in industrial agriculture; and the engineering, production, introduction and release of genetically engineered crops. Severe contamination of plant diversity, soils and waters would also fall within the qualification of ecocide. Finally, the introduction of persistent organic pollutants such as PCB into the environment causing widespread, long-lasting and severe environmental harm and affecting the right of the future generations could fall within the qualification of ecocide as well.”

Belize is listed as the third “fattest” country in the world. The top two causes of death in Belize are coronary heart disease and diabetes, both of which are tied closely to obesity. Obesity is the new global epidemic, stemming from malnutrition. Yes! Malnutrition!!! The foods we are eating are degraded, lacking sufficient minerals and nutrients needed by our bodies for proper cell function. The body keeps calling for more “nutrition” and so we keep eating and eating all of these foods that are severely lacking the various nutrients for which the cells are calling. At the same time, we are consuming calories upon calories that result in stored fat. The body still says “it is starving” for certain elements that it is not getting, and so we continue to eat more and more. However, this does not have to be this way.

Many scientific independent peer-reviewed published studies have demonstrated the relationships of synthetic agro chemicals used in farming the foods that we consume to the sudden rise in obesity and many other diseases, as well as birth defects. The very agro chemicals designed to enhance production are responsible for the degraded quality of our food. Many of these chemicals bind up minerals in the soil so that the plant cannot uptake the nutrients into the plant structure. These chemicals destroy beneficial microbes in the soil leaving the plant defenseless and so more chemicals in the form of pesticides are applied. And the saga goes on and on in an unending cycle of distortion of the normal and natural means of plant propagation that has fed this planet for millennia.

In March 2017, the United Nations released a report stating that the massive dependence on agro chemicals is poisoning the environment and the world food chain resulting in many deaths directly related to the use of these chemicals. Further the report states that it is a myth perpetuated by the mega chemical companies that their chemicals are needed to produce sufficient food to feed the world population. On the contrary, the UN report states that these very chemicals are the cause of the degradation of the food supply and are not in fact needed to feed the world.

Further, the registration of these toxic chemicals has been marred by collusion of the manufacturers with the very public agencies charged with protecting the health of the people, all to the economic benefit of the manufacturers. Much of the testing data for registrations of these chemicals have been exposed as being fraudulent.

Here in Belize, at this moment, there are two petitions lodged by civil society at the Belize Pesticides Control Board (PCB), requesting that the PCB not reregister any herbicide containing the chemical glyphosate. The focus is on glyphosate as scientists report that glyphosate, in addition to its own lethal properties, increases the harmful effects of other environmental toxins. Glyphosate is highly water soluble, drifts through the atmosphere, is carried into the reef waters, is persistent in the soil, and is shown to be persistent in the environment for years.

Glyphosate has been linked to the following disorders: birth defects, cancer, autism, miscarriages, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, intestinal disorders, digestive problems, autoimmune disorders, liver disease, lupus, arthritis, chronic kidney disease, impaired thyroid function, hydrocephaly (small head), cleft pallet, hyperactivity, obesity, and lowered sperm count (male infertility).

Glyphsoate residues, or the metabolites (break down products of glyphosate), are found in the staple foods we consume everyday: wheat bread, corn tortillas, red kidney beans, chicken, imported canned meats, gelatin, Jello, vegetable oils, mayonnaise, milk, cheese, cookies, chips, and many others.

Belizeans are joining the global movement to ban glyphosate. For your health, the health of your children and future Belizeans, as well as the conservation of Belize’s natural heritage, I personally ask each person to learn more about the chemical threats to our environment and your health. See the Belize website: www.ban-glyphosate,com.

Respectfully Yours,
Maruja Vargas
Las Golandrinas PermaFarm, Cayo

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