Immokalee Florida Farm/birth Defects

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by momanto, Oct 13, 2005.

  1. momanto

    momanto SW FLORIDA HAPPYLAND

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    HAVING PUT THIS ON THE GARDEN THREAD, SEEMS IT BELONGS HERE TOO.

    IN THE LAST TWO DAYS THE FORT MYERS NEW-PRESS (FLORIDA) HAS PUBLISHED ARTICLES ON THE FACT THAT 5 FARM WORKER WOMEN IN IMMOKALEE, FL. HAVE GIVEN BIRTH TO BABIES WITH SEVERE BIRTH DEFECTS- CLEFT PALATE PREDOMINATELY. IT REPORTED THE GOV. INQUIRY INTO THE CAUSE. WELL, I GOOGLED "CLEFT PALATE" AND HAVING READ SCIENTIFIC REPORTS ON THAT SUBJECT I FIND THE GOV. INQUIRY INCOMPLETE.

    DOES ANY ONE ELSE SEE THIS? ARENT YOU GLAD YOU GARDEN ORGANIC?

    www.news-press.com

    MOM
     
  2. Grandmotherbear

    Grandmotherbear Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Years ago I was going to help a church group "glean" vegetables for the poor from commercial fields. My dad, the agricultural economist, was still alive and got REALLY upset about the risk I would be subjecting myself to- even a life time in Washington DC specializing for Meat Animals for USDA and he and clerical staff KNEW the agricultural companies didn't abide by restrictions on dangerous chemicals- he told mE thats why he always bought us CANNED fruits and vegies instead of supermarket produce...I wound up not doing it..
     

  3. Rita

    Rita Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It was interesting to read that your dad only bought canned fruits and vegies. Did he ever tell you what the difference would be? I would think those products would be sprayed/treated/grown just the same as the fresh produce. Personally I would like to see some bug damage on these fruits and vegies. As I was getting ready to eat a store peach yesterday I thought how beautiful it was but did I want to eat something that the bugs won't even eat? Rita in TN
     
  4. Grandmotherbear

    Grandmotherbear Well-Known Member Supporter

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    He said- and we saw in the tours thru various food processing facilites- that processed food was automatically washed in stronger jets or water than just swishing produce under a kitchen tap.
    Plus he said shippers and supermarkets sprayed additional pesticides and chemicals to retard aging on the fresh produce. :shrug:
     
  5. momanto

    momanto SW FLORIDA HAPPYLAND

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    If Anyone Knows How To Cut And Paste The News Press Article To This Thread, Would You Please Do It For Us? Thanks. Mom
     
  6. Shepherd

    Shepherd Well-Known Member

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    Well I had to do a search at that site to find anything but there were several articles. This one was from Oct 8th.

    WORKERS' SAFETY: PESTICIDES AND BIRTH DEFECTS
    State must act, advocates maintain
    Melanie Payne
    Staff

    Chemicals suspected in deformities

    State must act, advocates maintain

    By Melanie Payne

    mpayne@news-press.com

    The smell of the chemicals made Cristina Matias sick to her stomach and she would drop down next to the tomato plants and heave.

    She was five weeks pregnant but needed to work in the Immokalee fields to make money to send back home to Mexico.

    By eight months into Matias' pregnancy, doctors discovered there was something wrong with her baby. They asked about the health of her older child in Mexico. And they asked if birth defects ran in her family.

    There was no family history, but there was a history. Three children, whose mothers also were Immokalee farmworkers, had been born in the past 10 months.

    Matias' little son Juan would make it four.

    One of the babies has a cleft palate and facial abnormalities. One child was born so disfigured her sex couldn't be determined until her body was autopsied. A baby boy was born in December with no arms and legs. Juan was born 2½ months ago with a cleft lip and cleft palate.

    "It's either an awful coincidence or it's pesticides," said Jim Kean, a caseworker at Guadalupe Social Services in Immokalee.

    Although no evidence has linked the birth defects with prenatal exposure to pesticides, Ag-Mart, the grower that three of the mothers worked for, announced they would stop using five pesticides linked to adverse health effects.

    "It's fine what Ag-Mart has done but what about the other chemicals and the other growers?" Kean asked.

    Matias didn't work for Ag-Mart; she worked for Pacific Tomato Growers.

    She said she was provided gloves, but no respirator or eye protection when working in the fields. She never received training in pesticide safety at the company, she said. And pesticides were sprayed while she was in the field.

    "I was working and the machine was spraying. It smelled. It was very strong," she said in Spanish.

    Pacific did not return calls seeking comment.

    "Common sense is telling us that something is amiss here," said Lisa Butler, an attorney with Florida Rural Legal Services' Farm Worker project. Butler has worked on pesticide issues for nine years and is critical of the state's role in protecting worker safety.

    "Pesticide safety enforcement and investigation of the health consequence and injury to farmworkers is sorely needed and currently (the state) is not meeting the challenge," Butler said.

    Pesticide exposure should be reported to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. There have been only 24 pesticide complaints this year, although that's more than the past two years combined.

    "The problem we run into is a lack of reporting," said Liz Compton, the spokeswoman for the agriculture department. "We've been stymied by a lack of information. The first we knew of the birth defects was when we read it in the paper. And we have yet to get an official complaint."

    When complaints do come in they are months after the event when the pesticide has dissipated and workers have moved on, Compton said. That may be the reason so few complaints are substantiated. Of the 84 filed in the past five years, so far, only six were proved.

    If people don't complain, it's unlikely investigators on their own will be able to discover violations. There are 43 inspectors and only 21 of those inspect pesticide usage at 11,000 nurseries and growers in the state, conducting about 600 inspections and investigations, Compton said.

    The department has requested more staff, she said. "But just like any other state agency, we do the best we can do with what we have."

    The Collier County Health Department spokeswoman, Deb Millsap, said physicians who deliver babies with birth defects are required to report the births to the state.

    In Immokalee, statistics show about 3.5 percent of babies will be born with birth defects, she said. Millsap couldn't determine whether four in less than a year "was out of line." But she promised a report -- the result of a seven-month investigation by state and local agencies -- would be released next week that would include recommendations that "will bring very positive outcomes."

    For little Juan Jobany Matias, the outcome is set. He is recovering from surgery he had Tuesday to repair his lip. He will need more surgery to repair his palate.

    He is getting healthier, his mother said, gaining the weight he had lost. "When I would feed him the milk would come out of his nose," she said.

    The baby's father left the 28-year-old Matias and went back to Mexico. She wants to get back to Mexico, too, once Juan is finished receiving medical treatment. She needs to work one more season in the fields, she said. She would be returning there even though some people believe that may be why her son was born disfigured.

    "I don't know," she said. "I can't blame without knowing exactly what happened."

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Copyright (c) The News-Press. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.

    ******

    There's another very interesting one dated April 29th... here's the jist of it:

    aatwater@news-press.com IMMOKALEE - Skin lesions, respiratory illnesses, lupus and even birth defects are plaguing South Florida's migrant farmworkers as pesticide use among untrained laborers remains largely unregulated, activists say. Hoping to raise awareness of the plight of hundreds of workers, many of whom are undocumented and unwilling or unable to report abuse, the Farmworker Association of Florida made public Thursday its most recent health assessment of dangerous... (you have to "buy" the article to get more than that.).
     
  7. ellebeaux

    ellebeaux Well-Known Member

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    I used to do research on the effects of environmental contaminants on reproduction. We would collect fish and alligators from areas in Florida where there was heavy pesticide use for orange groves. Lake Apopka and other places around Ocala.

    There were lakes where none of the fish were younger than 6 years old - the water got so poisoned that the fish were all sterile. Sometimes you couldn't tell if they were male or female plus they had several cancers. We also found similar things with alligators.

    The thing that struck me the most is the subdivisions that were built on old orange groves. The houses had been there for years but the lawns looked liked they were tiger-striped: the areas where the trees had been were bare 3 foot wide stripes then 3 feet wide stripes of greener grass. Stunning to see, as you realize that the herbicides were still in the soil, still killing the plant life.
     
  8. pickapeppa

    pickapeppa Well-Known Member

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    I used to work for an agricultural company in the research and development division. We worked with herbacide resistant strains and had to subject seedlings to different serial dilutions of herbacides. Even in the small amounts we used, we had to wear OSHA approved respirators with organic vapor filters, neoprene gloves up to our elbows, work under a fumehood and keep the plants in a closed cabinet. Even with all the protection, just the slight few seconds of transfering the plants from cabinet to fumehood, and taking off our equipment to leave the room, was enough that we would go home nauseated and with throbbing headaches. Even the "approved" chemicals are very nasty and dangerous in small amounts. We didn't even mess with pesticides, and had company training and applicator's licenses. Another reason why we grow our own. BTW, thanks for the info on the fresh vs. frozen/canned produce. I was unaware of that little fact.