Pesticide Management Plans for Argentina’s Agricultural Sector
TO: Carlos Casamiquela, President of the Argentine Ministry of Agriculture
FROM: Joseph St. James Lopez, Political Science Major at Davidson College
SUBJECT: Pesticide Use Management Plan For Argentina’s Agricultural Sector
NEED FOR PROPER MANAGEMENT OF PESTICIDES IN ARGENTINA
Argentina has become the world’s third-largest soy producer, and “almost all of it is genetically-modified seed.”. This has made soy the country’s “most important crop export… and has brought the liberal use of pesticides”. Despite Monsanto and the USDA claiming that glyphosate, the main pesticide used in Argentina, has “low chronic toxicity (a high chronic score) and relatively low persistence relative to the herbicides that it has replaced,” it is barely regulated and is causing negative effects on the surrounding communities.an investigation by the Associated Press found that pesticide use was “at best, lightly regulated” N. Now, traditionally agricultural provinces such as Santa Fe and Chaco have cancer rates “two or four times higher than the national average, and birth defects have quadrupled in the decade. Indeed, Argentine farmers use an “estimated 4.3 pounds of agrochemical concentrate per acre, more than twice what U.S. farmers use” – and most of the time unregulated. Although it can appear cheaper to use pesticides right now, they also cause invasive species to build immunity to its effects. Still, Argentina has the capability to manage pesticide use in order to improve farmer and crop health simultaneously through environmentally, socially, and economically sound methods such as using different and less pesticides, moving pesticide use further from populated areas, or enforcing proper use of current pesticides. I argue that using less pesticides is the most feasible and effective strategy..
THREE POSSIBLE STRATEGIES FOR PESTICIDE USE MANAGEMENT:
1. Use different and less pesticides: Instead of applying pesticides at regular intervals, measure “pest pressure via traps in fields” and apply pesticide only when with clear economic sense. Use “crop rotations and planting resistant varieties” as well as substitute current pesticides for “’reduced risk’ pesticides”. Also, use bio-intensive practices such as “releasing beneficial organisms, applying hormones to disrupt pest mating, and using biologically based bacterial pesticides rather than petroleum derived formulas”.
2. Move pesticide use further from populated areas: As “one-third of the provinces” have set no limits on pesticide spraying within populated areas, and most “lack detailed enforcement policies”, make a federal environmental law that requires applications of toxic chemicals be 4 kilometers outside of populated regions. Failure to comply with such regulations would result in a fine.
3. Enforce proper use of current pesticides: Enforce proper pesticide use applications as defined by Monsanto by fining those who go beyond suggested guidelines. This includes “halting aerial spraying on populated regions, storing poisons in water containers that should be destroyed, and mixing poisons with no protective gear”.
Each method requires significant levels of enforcement and agreement between the government, farmers, and police. Reducing pesticide use with the methods detailed has been effective with companies such as Campbell’s, who states that “yield and quality were not issues, and costs dropped across a wide range of crops”. Campbell’s also reports that need for synthetic pesticides has dropped 50 percent” with such methods. Moving pesticide use further from villages, and enforcing proper use of current pesticides, would be easy to put into law, but would require effective and continuous government surveillance with officers that understand the laws enforced.
In reducing pesticide use, there is the challenge of developing “appropriate metrics and measurement systems for pesticide reduction and for assessing other components of agriculture’s environmental footprints”. Enforcing proper use of current pesticide has similar issues to confront, but both options can collaborate with companies such as the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops and use the IPM Options Evaluation Tool to help effective administration. Moving farming practices further from villages would create challenges for those who live far from work and would “create higher costs”. Farmers already have a contentious relationship with the federal government and say their profits have been “whittled down to nearly nothing by high taxes” – making it tough to enforce.
SOCIAL COSTS AND BENEFITS
Mounting scientific evidence finds that “unregulated use of Monsanto’s chemicals are linked to growing instances of various cancers and birth defects”. Each of these options would have important social benefits due to each one’s ability to reduce public exposure to dangerous chemicals. Requiring pesticide use further from cities would not be popular as it increases farmers’ commute to work. Reducing pesticide use would have greatest social benefits in the long run as it “reduces direct exposure of farm workers to pesticides or from consumer exposure to pesticide residues on foods”.
ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS AND BENEFITS
Reducing pesticide use would be the most beneficial option as it deals with invasive species that become increasingly resistant to herbicide. It also reduces “the movement of pesticides into ground and surface water and into the food chain”. Unlike the other options, it finds an environmental solution for crop health by releasing beneficial organisms, instead of petroleum-derived formulas, to farms.
ECONOMIC COSTS AND BENEFITS
Reducing pesticide use would be the most beneficial option in the long run, as even Campbell’s acknowledged that their costs dropped. Still, almost all of Argentina’s soy production is genetically modified, requiring a large-scale intervention and economic costs in crop pesticide management in the short-term. Proper pesticide use would require more regulation enforcement, but costs would stay at similar levels. Restricting use of pesticides near cities would “create higher costs” as Argentine farmers expect to be compensated for such limits.
REDUCING PESTICIDE USE IS MOST FEASIBLE AND EFFECTIVE OPTION:
Reducing pesticide use with alternative methods is the most feasible and effective solution because it reduces the economic cost in the long run, it reduces human exposure to harmful potential chemicals, and it reduces the continued invasive species’ resistance towards herbicides. It requires the largest scale work, but the benefits outweigh the costs.
DECISION ANALYSIS CHART
|Options||Effectiveness||Admin. Feasibility||Social Costs and Benefits||Env. Costs and Benefits||Economic Costs and Benefits||Option Score||Option Score (Weighted)|
|Pesticides further from population||2||1||2||1||1||1||1.375|
|Enforce Proper Pesticide Use||3||3||2||2||2||2||2.25|
FIVE CRITERIA FOR DECISION ANALYSIS
This decision analysis is based on the criteria of administrative feasibility, effectiveness, social costs and benefits, environmental costs and benefits, and economic costs and benefits associated with the three options discussed. Each is given a number from 1 to 3, with 1 meaning low feasibility and costs greater than benefits, 2 meaning moderate feasibility with equal costs and benefits, and 3 being high feasibility where benefits are greater than the cost. I give equal weight to the importance of social, environmental, and economic costs, having greater weight than the plans effectiveness and feasibility.
RT News, 2014
RT News, 2014
USDA, pg. 28, 2014
RT News, 2014
RT News, 2014
USDA, pg. 1, 2014
USDA, pg. 1, 2014
United States. United States Department of Agriculture and Economic Research Service Pesticide Use in U.S. Agriculture : 21 Selected Crops, 1960-2008. By Jorge Fernandez-Cornejo. Washington, D.C.: USDA, 2014. Print.
Visser, Nick. “As Argentina’s Pesticide Use Increases, Many Worry About Growing Link To Health Problems.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 20 Oct. 2013. Web. 06 Apr. 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/20/argentina-pesticides-health- problems_n_4131825.html>.
“Argentina Environmentalists, Farm Workers Protest Monsanto Pesticides.” RT News. N.p., 15 May 2014. Web. 05 Apr. 2015. <http://rt.com/news/159060-argentina- residents-workers-protest-monsanto/>.
Marcarian, Enrique. “Argentina Introduces More Pesticide Restrictions.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 02 Aug. 2013. Web. 05 Apr. 2015. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/02/us-argentina-pesticides- idUSBRE9710RO20130802>.
Liroff, Richard. “Reducing Pesticide Use: How to Cut Costs and Be a Green Hero.” GreenBiz. N.p., 27 Apr. 2009. Web. 06 Apr. 2015. <http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2009/04/27/reducing-pesticide-use-how-cut- costs-and-be-green-hero>.