A delegation of politicians and community activists gathered on August 7 in La Leonesa, a small farm town in Argentina, to hear Dr. Andres Carrasco speak about a study linking a popular herbicide to birth defects in Argentina’s agricultural areas.
But the presentation never happened. A mob of about 100 people attacked the delegation before they could reach the local school where the talk was to be held.
Dr. Carrasco and a colleague locked themselves in a car as the mob yelled threats and beat on the vehicle for two hours. One delegate was hit in the spine and has since suffered lower-body paralysis. Another person was treated for blows to the head. A former provincial human rights official was hit in the face and knocked unconscious.
Carrasco is a lead embryologist at the University of Buenos Aires Medical School and the Argentinean national research council. His study, first released in 2009 and published in the United States this past summer, shows that glyphosate-based herbicides like Monsanto’s popular Roundup formula caused deformations in chicken embryos that resembled the kind of birth defects being reported in areas like La Leonesa, where big agribusinesses depend on glyphosate to treat genetically engineered crops.
The deformations resulted from much lower doses of herbicide than those commonly found on crops, according to the study.
Biotech chemical giant Monsanto patented glyphosate under the trade name Roundup in the 1970’s. The billion-dollar product is a main source of Monsanto’s revenue and one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. One Monsanto blogger recently wrote that decades of success has made the Roundup brand name and glyphosate “interchangeable similar to the case of facial tissue and the brand name Kleenex.”
Carrasco’s report was largely ignored in the mainstream American media, but gained international attention among those opposed to genetically modified (GM) crops like Monstano’s Roundup Ready crops, which are genetically engineered to tolerate the glyphosate-based herbicides.