Action for Life and the Environment in Paraguay! Ask the president to veto the law that threathens life!

[img_assist|nid=337|title=Stop Spraying!|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=150|height=113]The Congress of Paraguay, manipulated by agribusiness, has recently approved a new law that promotes the indiscriminate fumigation of agrochemicals on monoculture plantations. This new law leaves the population without legal ways to defend themselves. President Lugo can veto the law and send it back for revision to the Congress, and take real measures to defend the population and the environment.

Sign here to urge president Lugo to veto the agrotoxics law

Despite being a relatively small country, Paraguay has turned into the 4th world soy exporting country. GM soy monocultures, Monsanto's RoundupReady soy, are mainly destined for the animal feed industry in Europe and China and currently take up over 2 million hectares in Paraguay. Industrial monocultures require intensive agrochemical spraying that contaminate and impact the health of the rural, indigenous and small farmer population.

Thousands of small farmers and indigenous people have been forced to leave their communities, because the living conditions have deteriorated enormously because of the contamination. They end up in poverty and exclusion in the cities

Recently, the Paraguayan Congress has approved a new law that favours the indiscriminate use of agrochemicals. This law that was written by the agribusiness lobby, will perpetuate the impunity of environmental crimes and leaves the population without protection. President Lugo has the power to veto this law and send it back for revision to the Congress. He can also keep a presidential decree enforced, a decree that was written by the Ministry of Health, which contains more restrictive measures to protect the population from the fumigations.

The pressure put by the agribusiness lobby on the Paraguayan government is extremely strong. Soy farmers threaten with tractor rallies and manifestations. It is therefore necessary that through an international call, the concerns about the vulnerability of the Paraguayan rural population are made heard. Sign the letter to President Lugo, asking him to veto the law that threatens life and nature.

Letter to president Lugo

El Señor Presidente de la República del Paraguay
Don Fernando Lugo Méndez
Palacio de Gobierno

I am sending this letter to express my deep concern over the serious environmental situation experienced in Paraguay due to the expansion of large monocultures and the indiscriminate use of agrotoxics. GM soy monoculture is causing life and health risks to the most vulnerable sectors of the population, it is destroying subsistence farming and it is drying up and contaminating drinking water sources, which are becoming more and more scarce in the world.

This situation will only get worse with the recent approval of this law (Ley No. 3742/09) “Control of Phytosanitary products for Agricultural use,” that is why we urge you to veto this law, making use of your constitutional attributions provided in article 238 inc. 4, as President and representative of the Paraguayan people, due to the following reasons:

- This law acts against the most basic human rights: the right to life, to health and to live in a healthy environment. The Constitution guarantees the protection of these rights in the hands of the Paraguayan state.

- This law constitutes a large step backwards for environmental legislation, and it then becomes a proposal designed with the objective of allowing for even more agribusiness impunity. It contemplates the elimination or flexibilization of “current norms of safety barriers such as Windbreaks as a pesticide drift mitigation strategy”. It also annuls necessary warning before the fumigation takes place over areas destined to defend life, health and drinking water sources, as well as the environment in general with the objective of counting with greater areas for the cultivation and use of agrotoxics.

- In addition, it eliminates any possibility for the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and the Secretary of the Environment to participate of any discussions or decisions related to pesticides, thus providing the National Service of Vegetable and Seed Quality and Health (SENAVE for its acronym in Spanish: Servicio Nacional de Calidad y Sanidad Vegetal y de Semillas) with unconstitutional attributions which are under the responsibility of the respective Ministries.

- It also violates a number of international agreements ratified by Paraguay. Among them: the American Convention on Human Rights; the UN Convention on Children’s Rights; the American Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Rotterdam Convention regarding previous consent to regulate pesticide control when these enter the territory, the Basel Convention as the law fails in contemplating the integral procedure of obsolete pesticides, considered dangerous and highly toxic waste; and the Rio Declaration. It contravenes principles that are part of Agenda 21, among them the precautionary principle and the health and security imperatives.

In this way I also request that you execute the 1937/09 decree in an urgent manner and counting with the support of all public institutions, which “establishes sanitary measures for the adequate use of pesticides in agricultural production.” This measure, originated in the Ministry of Health and that counts with the approval of the Secretary of the Environment, gathers various current norms linked to pesticide application and that, until now, were not being applied, and enacts punitive measures with the objective of providing greater protection to people’s life, health, and the environment.

We urge the Paraguayan Government to reject the keeping of the same corporate interests represented by the agro export GM soy model and its agrotoxics package. We demand the rejection of the projects that threaten people’s life, health and the environment and that do not respect local peoples’ will.

Finally, we encourage you to do all what you can in order to improve the environmental and health situation of the Paraguayan people.