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The neighbors of Villa Ituzaingo issued an alert after they confirmed the death of fish, bees, trees and harvests in the area as a result of the spraying of a soy plantation less than 300 meters (the legal limit to do so) from their town. The neighbors are also reporting the impact of the spraying on grain plantations, such as the development of allergies and breathing problems of the local residents.
In April of 2014, 400 residents of Villa Ituzaingo, Uruguay, sent a letter to the National Department for the Environment (DINAMA) to expose the situation and demand action. Four months later, after the case was made known in an article published in La Diaria newspaper, the agency said it would act on the neighbour’s demands.
DINAMA told the neighbors that the municipality has jurisdiction to declare the area free of fumigations, something that was explicitly requested by the community, as Yimmi Alvarez, one of the neighbors told Real World Radio. He also mentioned that DINAMA announced a meeting with representatives of the municipality “to which none of the neighbors have been invited yet”.
The community of Villa Ituzaingo also fears about the threat posed by agrotoxics to Santa Lucia river, which provides drinking water to 60% of the country’s population.
“We should not forget that the sprayings always end up in the river. Furthermore, there is a water treatment plant 3 km upstream. We all know that Arroyo de la Virgen is near the plantations. They are now spraying them with agrotoxics and if it rains tomorrow the agrotoxics end up in the Santa Lucia river and we end up drinking that polluted water”.
The neighbors were notified that Tonigral SA, the company that manages the plantations, was fined by DINAMA for breaking the law. The company’s owners said that despite the fine they will continue planting soy there. To which Yimmy replied:
“They may have their rights to cultivate, but we have our rights as people living in this great country and each of us will defend our own rights”.
He then concluded: “We will continue fighting and if that implies filing a lawsuit we will do so. If we have to block roads, we will. What is at stake here is the health of our children and our adults of the people of Villa Ituzaingo”.
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