A group of professors at the University of Cordoba, Argentina, detected incidence rates of cancer and other diseases that triple the provincial and national averages.
After conducting a study with thousands of people, the professors recommended that grain storage plants, pesticides and other agrochemicals be kept outside the city center.
The higher than normal incidence in various types of cancer was detected in the village of In Monte Maíz, a small town located 440 kilometers west of Buenos Aires. With only 8,200 inhabitants Monte Maíz, asked the University of Córdoba to investigate what they perceived as an increase in serious illnesses.
Medics, university students and experts of the Center for Environmental Research, University of La Plata participated in the study.
The research found that the gross rate of cancer incidence was of 707 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 264 in the province of Córdoba and 217 throughout Argentina.
The main types of tumors that were detected included breast, colon, prostate, thyroid and skin. A total of 21.6% of the cases occurred in people whose age was under 44, a segment of the population that is represented by only 11.6% at the provincial level.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in Monte Maíz, 33.4% of the total deaths in 2014. In Argentina, cancer comes second as the cause of death at a rate of 20% and behind cardiovascular disease.
Doctors at the University of Cordoba, led by Medardo Ávila Vázquez, warned that Monte Maíz is a transit place for 600,000 liters of glyphosate a year, which is a herbicide used on plantations of genetically modified soybeans. This glyphosate is deposited in 22 warehouses distributed around the village, some without municipal authorization.
This month, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that “there is convincing evidence that glyphosate can cause cancer” and that “there is limited evidence of glyphosate being a carcinogenicity in humans”. In Monte Maíz, people plant transgenic soybean, corn and wheat.
The researchers recommended the mayor to relocate the deposits of agrochemicals and also the grain, since toxic substances would also be released from them.
During the study conducted by experts, they found glyphosate, cypermethrin and cloropiritos residues in soil samples. “The rural area totals 65,000 hectares, where people spray 630,000 liters of pesticides annually,” says the report.
The document also expresses concern about an open dump located 800 meters from the village, notes the existence of stagnant water from past floods and a drainage channel with harmful waste products from local industries.
Cancer is not the only concern in Monte Maíz. The rate of spontaneous abortions amounted to 9.9% of pregnant women, compared to the 3% national average.
Children with congenital malformations account for 2.9% in the last 10 years, compared to 1.9% as the national average.
Doctors also drew attention to the amount of pulmonary disease, hypothyroidism and lupus.
Argentina is the third largest producer of soybeans in the world. In 2012, at the first trial on agrochemical pollution in this country, a court in Cordoba sentenced a farmer to three years suspended sentence to a farmer and a pilot whose planes fumigate the inhabitants of a neighboring district of the city while spraying chemicals on a nearby plantation.