Birth defects, cancer plague Argentina as GM soy replaces traditional cattle industry

GMsoyArgentinaThe BBC isn’t known for being an anti-GM news organization, so you’re not likely to see them giving wide coverage of research and reports that buck Big Agriculture’s claim to GM safety. However, in an attempt to provide equal coverage on the GM debate in South America, the BBC sent reporter Linda Presley to the burgeoning soy fields of Argentina to talk to people on both sides for the issue.

According to Presley’s report, which is now available as a BBC podcast, Argentina was once known for its huge cattle industry. Today, though, it is known for being one of the world’s top producers of soy–with virtually all of it being GM. Presley visited huge soy farms, some of which sprawl as far as the eye can see, and she comments on how much of this land used to be cattle farms.

At one time Argentina was a top beef producer; now it is a top GM soy producer. Its soy ships to China to feed pigs, and its soy ships to Europe to feed chickens.

The change started back in the 1990’s when Big Agriculture brought “technology” to the backward cattle farmers of Argentina. The farmers could leave their destructive cattle farming for more-profitible and environmentally sound soy farming. After all, the GM crops would need hardly any chemical pesticides… they were going to save the planet!

That was the plan anyway.

Today, as reported in the BBC podcast, Argentina is rife with soaring cancer rates, soaring birth defect rates, and soaring rates of school children with learning disabilities. These soaring negatives are a fact. And so is the fact that much of Argentina’s historic cattle land has been turned into soy farms. But proving the two are connected is a challenging task.

Not surprisingly, which side an Argentinian falls on regarding the issue has a lot to do with whether their family has suffered or benefitted. Linda Presley interviews them one after the other. Family members of victims who have died of cancer point to Big Ag, their GM crops, and their accompanying chemicals; meanwhile, everyone making money working for Monsanto–or making a living from a soy farm–claim that their own industry testing has proven the products are safe.

One study is perhaps the most poignant: Researchers polled Argentinians who worked on or lived near GM soy fields if they had a relative who had died of cancer. One-third responded that they did. Then researchers asked the same question of Argentinians who worked on or lived near a cattle ranch. Only 3% responded that they did.

You can listen to the BBC podcast at this link.

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