Millions of birds have been poisoned in furadan-treated wheat
fields in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina,
according to reports by PAN Brazil and the Union of Rural
Workers of Vargeao.
Furadan, the trade name for granulated carbofuran produced in
Brazil by NORAGRO, is a long-lasting insecticide-nematicide
that is applied when seeds are planted to control pests that
may or may not occur later in the growing season. A single
application has a prolonged action of up to 30 days.
According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data,
carbofuran has been responsible for killing thousands of
birds from bald eagles in the Chesapeake Bay to Canada geese
in CaliforniaUs central valley; a single granule is capable
of killing a small bird.
Carbofuran is also marketed in Brazil by EPAGRI de Vargeao-SC
under the trade name Ralzer, and applied by a specialized Sao
Paulo based company. According to Geraldo Luiz Rozanski, an
agronomist with the Union of Rural Workers, runoff from
farmland treated by this company has contaminated large areas
and abnormally large bird kills have been reported throughout
PAN Brazil and the Union have sent urgent messages to the
Governor of Santa Catarina (who was formerly the Secretary of
Agriculture) and the Public Ministry of the district, which
promised to open a public inquiry on the ecological disaster,
but to date no results have been forthcoming. The lax
government response outraged the local farmers.
One local farmer summed up the preferential treatment
received by big companies, noting that when a local hunter is
caught killing birds, his gun will be confiscated and he
faces the possibility of going to jail; but when EPAGRI and
NORAGRO kill birds indiscriminately during the mating season
and poison the environment at the same time, nothing happens.
Seed Giant ASGROW invests $1 million in the Southern Cone.
ASGROW, a multinational seed and agrochemical company which
produces genetically engineered and patented vegetable and
fruit seeds, tripled its sales in the Southern Cone of Latin
America in the last three years. In 1989, sales totaled US
$200,000, but the company expects 1993 sales to top US $1
million, according to Marinho Alencas, the companies general
director in Brazil.
Among ASGROW's products are seedless watermelons, onions, and
winter melons. The seedless watermelon have been a
particular boon to the company. Farmers are held hostage
because the genetically manipulated hybrid produces sterile
fruit, forcing farmers into the cycle of buying ever more
expensive seeds each year. As always, poor farmers have been
hit the hardest.
PAN Brazil, along with the Seeds Action Network and other
NGOs around the world, have been alerting Third World
governments to the "war of the genes" which transforms
agriculture into the private intellectual property of
PAN Brazil has focused special attention on those
transnational agrochemical companies that have bought up the
great majority of seed companies in the world. Although it
still seems like a science fiction conspiracy to many
Brazilian farmers, products like Monsanto's rice cultivar
that is genetically engineered to be resistant to Roundup
(glyphosate), Monsanto's #1 selling herbicide, are becoming
more and more common. As with the Green Revolution, poor
farmers, unable to afford either seeds or pesticides, are hit
the hardest by the marriage of biotechnology and the
agrochemical industry. Additionally, because these products
are being developed by multi-national corporations that have
no accountability to individual developing countries,
governments have very little opportunity to control the
development of products that are not in the best interests of
either their farmers or the environment.
Sources: INFOPAN Oct.-Dec. 1993, published by PAN Brazil. US
EPA Pesticide Fact Sheet, Office of Pesticides and Toxic
Substances, Office of Pesticide Programs, US EPA, Washington,
Contact: PAN Brazil, C. Postal 947, Joinville - Brazil, Cep
89.201-972; phone (55-474) 224 874; fax (55-474) 260 649.
The Pesticide Action Network Updates Service (PANUPS) is a
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located at 116 New Montgomery Street, #810, San Francisco, CA
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