Promoting agroecology as a viable alternative to agrochemicals and industrial monocultures.
The current way of producing food based on the use of agrochemicals, heavy machinery and other oil-dependent agricultural technologies, excess packaging, processing, refrigeration and transporting food over long distances, are all factors which provoke the climate change.
Since 1995 Pesticide Action Network (PAN) has been working in our Uruguay and we are dedicated to ensuring the empowerment of people, agricultural workers and farmers, particularly in relation to the use of hazardous chemicals in agricultural production. We are especially committed to protecting the health and safety of the people and the environment from pesticide use in agriculture and forestry monocultures, to struggle against the expansion of GMO crops and in opposing the loss of food sovereignty. We also promote agroecology as a viable alternative to industrial monocultures and as a way of minimising climate change.
During the past two decades, the expansion of different types of industrial monocultures – soy bean crops and tree plantations – has resulted in the widespread pollution of an increasing number of water courses and of the soil and air. Such pollution is the consequence of an industrial agricultural model that requires the use of thousands of tons of agrotoxics (herbicides, insecticides, fungicides) and chemical fertilizers, which are annually sprayed –by land and air- throughout the country, and in some cases very close to communities and even to rural schools.
The potential outreach of the project is to phase out the use of pesticides and fertilizers in order to improve the quality of life by promoting environmental conservation and sustainable development of agriculture through the promotion of agro-ecological farming, free of GMO crops and any kind of monocultures (crops or tree plantations), because of the impacts they are causing to climate change and to the contamination of soil, water, air and specially to the people who are living near these monocultures.
The project’s objectives are to encourage and promote policies for sustainable agricultural development, taking into account the impacts of pesticides and fertilizers on climate change, and to create awareness in order to make promote changes in the way food is produced.
The project will focus on working with politicians and government officials, because they are the decision makers, and are therefore responsible for making and promoting change. This project also includes working with the affected communities and with partners that are working to get rid of the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers both in the capital city Montevideo, as well as the other provinces.
Given Uruguay’s relatively small size it is possible to focus this project on a significant portion of the country. Since Uruguay’s economy is based on agriculture and breeding livestock, the impacts of the massive use of pesticides and GM crops can be seen in most of the country.
It is essential to raise awareness of climate change through education. We believe that no task is more important than helping people to learn and share good practices and so help them understand what climate change implies in our country and globally and how industrial monocultures are contributing to the problem.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 2014
The project is ongoing until the end of May 2014.
Lobbying and campaigning against the use of agrochemicals:
– Two meetings (November-December 2013) with the Director in charge of the Department of Plant and Animal Health from the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Mr. Bertoni. The aims of the meeting were to find out what kind of measures his department is planning to follow, in order to control the water contamination, ask for the banning in the use of hazardous agrotoxics Chlorpyrifos and atrazine.
– Two meetings (August-October 2013) with Dr. Carmen Ciganda, Director of the department of Occupational and Environment Health, from the Ministry of Public Health. The aims of the meetings were to request support for the idea of implementing a better control of the regulation regarding agrotoxics and fertilizers near communities in rural areas and the prohibition of hazardous substances such as the herbicides atrazine and Glyphosate. Glyphosate is widely used in GMO soy bean plantations, in tree plantations and in many other crops.
– Two meetings (October-November 2013) with the Director of Environment and Health from Montevideo, the capital city. The aim of the meetings was to request support of the idea of implementing a better control of the regulation regarding the use of agrotoxics in fruits and vegetables sold in Montevideo. And to support the farmers which are producing their crops using ecological agriculture practices.
On the December 3rd 2013 “Global No Pesticides Use Day”, to commemorate the world’s worst chemical and industrial disaster in 1984.Our organization together with Unión Internación de trabajadores de la Alimentación (UITA) secretaria para América latina, Grupo Guayubira and the Red de Agroecología, carried out a seminar in Montevideo which featured participants and authorities from: Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries, Department of Environment and Health from the Town Hall of Montevideo, a public prosecutor who works on environment and health issues, a representative of the University, a farmer worker and a representative of RAPAL Uruguay. The aim of the seminar was to present from different perspectives the impacts of the use of agrotoxics and fertilizers on climate change and to find a ways in which to deal with the impacts which all these hazardous substances have on global climate change.
Participation in workshops and talks, in Montevideo, and other provinces
– 5th August talk to a community which is surrounded by soy bean crops, agrochemicals, empty containers of agrochemicals. This activity was carried out in the city of Young. The same day we had four interviews in different media including a television interview.
– 8th September, in Montevideo. Workshop with a group of vegan and vegetarian people (UVVU).
13th September, secondary school, in Canelones. Talk about the impact of agrochemicals in fresh water.
– 16th September, talk in rural school, Ecilda Paullier Escuela N°76, in the province of San José.
– 7th December, in Canelones. Talk about food Sovereignty in a workshop organized by a group organic farmer which we work with and belong to MAELA.
Work with teachers from rural schools
– 2nd July, workshop, Aerial and ground spraying – Impact on the environment and population health
– 11th February, workshop, “The rural school and agricultural and forestry monocultures”
Apart from working with teachers on the impacts of the use of agrochemical in monocultures which schools are surrounded, we also wok on promoting organic farming as an alternative to non-use of pesticides in the schools’ orchards.
– Through our monthly bulletin we are in different means of communication, radios, internet web sites, facebook and also interviews. Click here to see the bulletins
Examples from websites which take our work and they are distributed among other social networks.
After countless complaints made, not only by our organization in various mass media in relation to water pollution produced by the massive use of pesticides and fertilizers, in September the director of plants and animals health from the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr. Bertoni was called to the Uruguayan parliament to explain what was happening in one of the most important watershed that supplies water to 60% of the population of Uruguay. He gave a detailed explanation on what going on and he committed himself and his department to study a better system to prevent the continuation of water pollution.
Mr. Bertoni, also acknowledged the lack of any kind of control regarding the use of fertilizers, and he promised that the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries will implement a regulation in relation to the use of fertilizers, something similar to the use of agrotoxics.
Changes take time and it is also a process, in order to achieve results one has to keep on working and evaluating the stages of the path we have started on.
We are proud that our work will be able to continue with your help and our community based work will be strengthen even more. People, little by little are realizing how climate change is affecting us all. It will take time but with your help we will be able to move forward. Thank you once again.