Spain, the 'queen' of pesticides

Spain, the 'queen' of pesticides

Experts warn of the relationship between chemical exposure to damage to brain development and diseases such as leukemia. The annual cost in Europe of exposure to endocrine disrupting pesticides on the infant brain is estimated at € 136 billion. Conference The voice of the victims, the ears of society.

Representatives from the world of medicine, politics and law met yesterday at the headquarters of the European Parliament in Madrid to discuss the health consequences of the use of pesticides. The cost of the consequences on child brain development associated with exposure to endocrine disrupting pesticides is estimated at 136 billion euros annually in Europe.

As revealed during the day, the risks are not only associated with acute exposures, but also with lower exposures over a long period of time. Damage to brain development, leukemia or infertility are some of the disorders associated with continued contact with these toxins.

At the event, the testimony of several victims could be heard in the first person, people who have fallen ill after overexposure with agrochemicals.

The issue takes on special relevance if we take into account that Spain is the largest consumer of pesticides in all of Europe. "I want to hug you and I can't." This is how Itziar describes her situation as a result of exposure to pesticides that were used in the flower shop where her mother worked, where she spent several hours every day after leaving school.

Her great psychomotor retardation, her learning difficulties, her fatigue, her food intolerances and the convulsive movements that she began to have when she was five years old only improved when she stopped being exposed to the chemicals that surrounded her, forcing her to change her habits. (starting with not stepping on the flower shop) and to stop having contact with friends and family who did not follow a strict protocol to avoid harmful chemicals.

Judith, an Agricultural Technical Engineer, started having problems at her job in her 30s. She suffered several sick leave due to continuous exposure to the pesticides she worked with at her company, which eventually fired her because her weak health did not allow her to carry out her job normally. His diagnosis: chemical sensitivity, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, something that he had to defend in court before his company's refusal to take responsibility for what happened. According to Judith, "behind every person exposed and sick from pesticides is a story, often dramatic, that ends up in medical courts crying out for administrative recognition."

Preventive use:

During the event, the use of pesticides in a preventive manner was denounced, "even though the European Commission establishes that the use of these substances must always be the last option." This was recalled by Carlos de Prada, president of the Vivo Sano Foundation's Home without toxics campaign.

The disorders associated with the use of these substances are many: infertility, breast or prostate cancer, leukemia ... As Carlos de Prada recalled, the annual cost in Europe of treating disorders on child neuronal development derived from exposure to endocrine disruptors amounts to 136,000 million euros per year.

Beyond estimates, this reality is being clearly reflected in the consultations. As explained by Dr. Pilar Muñoz Calero, president of the Alborada Foundation, autism is a clear example that something is happening around us: when in 1975 we had one case for every 5,000 people, today we are already talking about one case from each 40-45 girls and boys.

Approximately one boy or girl in each elementary class has an autism spectrum disease. "The incidence of autism is very worrying but there are clear improvements in their health when there is avoidance of toxins present in the environment. In diseases like this, the causes are sought in genetics but in many cases it is not like that. epigenetics, how environmental factors regulate the expression of genes, "he stressed.

In the words of Dr. Muñoz Calero, childhood constitutes the population at greatest risk, along with pregnant women. The characteristics that make them most vulnerable are their way of playing, putting toys in their mouths, being on the floor continuously, their faster breathing rate ... In the case of pesticides, it is observed that boys and girls who have a garden treated with chemical pesticides have a 6.5 times higher risk of childhood leukemia than those boys and girls who do not have a garden or who do not treat it.

Presentation of two new reports:

Two reports were presented during the event: 'No BrainerVentana nueva', by the CHEM Trust organization, on the effects of everyday chemicals on child neurodevelopment, and 'Directo a tu hormones', by Ecologists in Action, a guide on waste of pesticides in Spanish foods.

Kistiñe García, head of the campaign Free of hormonal contaminants of Ecologists in Action, denounced the massive presence of these substances in the food we consume in Spain. As an example he cited pears, which contain 46 different chemicals of which 16 are endocrine disruptors, or apples, which contain 32 different pesticides of which 13 are endocrine disruptors.

The 'No Brainer' report highlights the uncomfortable reality of children continually exposed to a cocktail of chemicals that can act together, something that is being widely ignored by chemical safety laws. It proposes a series of policies that could help meet this challenge. For example, faster regulatory action on groups of similar chemical compounds and the development of new methods for identifying hazardous chemicals.

Attention has also been paid to the different initiatives to reduce the use of pesticides, such as the European Citizens' Initiative #StopGlyphosate, a herbicide whose reauthorization in the European Union is in question.

This action is coordinated by the WeMove organization and, although it is on its way to 700,000 signatures throughout Europe, it needs to exceed one million before the summer, which is why the dissemination of this initiative is important: ..

Specific objectives:

Another initiative is the proposal for the legal establishment of objectives to reduce the use of pesticides in Spain, promoted by the Vivo Sano Foundation and Fodesam, which has had the support of the main Spanish environmental organizations. This proposal seeks to serve as a basis for the authorities and political forces to promote specific plans with specific objectives and specific deadlines contemplated by law, with a view to reducing the use of these substances in our country.

The event was closed by José Esquinas, 2012 FAO Award after having worked for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for more than 30 years, who stated: "The recent merger of large agro-industrial corporations and the dangerous international control they exercise on seeds and agrochemicals makes today more necessary than ever an international treaty that regulates and eliminates the use of dangerous pesticides and advances towards sustainable, ecological and healthy agricultural methods ". The four organizing entities, Fundación Alborada, Fundación Vivo Sano, Ecologistas en Acción and Movemos Europa, intend with this act to highlight the serious public health problem posed by the widespread use of pesticides at all levels and the need to give way to alternatives that allow an optimal coexistence of the human being and the natural environment.

This day ends the Pesticide Free Week events that are celebrated each year with the arrival of spring in 20 countries around the world.

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