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  • Field worker spraying a field with chemicals.

    Field worker spraying a field with chemicals. | Photo: REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

Published 17 December 2018

The report indicates that pesticides affect different cells and affect pregnant women, as well as damaging the cells of a fetus and even the next generation.

A new study financed by Paraguay’s Catholic University and the National Council of Science and Technology showed significant damage in the DNA of children exposed to widespread fumigation techniques in the use of agriculture.

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Pediatrician Stella Benitez Leite led the team that carried out the research project which was based on the analysis of the cells of 43 children from the community of San Juan, in the Department of Canindeyu in Paraguay.

These children lived in an area of high soybean cultivation and are constantly exposed to agricultural toxins used by soy farmer to fumigate their fields. The children were between 5 and 10 years old when their samples were taken in 2016. Children from another community, Sangento Baez in the department of Cordillera, were used as a control group since no toxins are used in that area.

The results showed that the cells of the children from San Juan were damaged in significantly more. According to the researchers, these variations in their readings could only be attributed to constant exposure from pesticides. "Children are a very vulnerable population. We find greater genotoxicity and cytotoxicity in the cells of children who are exposed to pesticides," said Dr. Benítez Leite and clarified that this cellular damage can lead to serious health effects.

"Nothing might happen and the cell could repair itself, or it can mutate and cause diseases that affect neurodevelopment, promote cancer, Parkinson's, or also produce spontaneous abortions and malformations in other generations if the damage affects germ cells, ovules or sperm," she added.

The report indicates that pesticides affect different cells and affect pregnant women, as well as damaging the cells of a fetus and even the next generation.  "There are three generations at risk for the use of pesticides" she concluded.

The most widely used pesticide in industrial agriculture is glyphosate, a potent herbicide used to ripen plants and regulate weeds. It was which was banned in several countries and classified by the World Health Organization as potentially carcinogenic.

Currently, cocktails of more potent pesticides are starting to be used, such as 2,4D., known as agent orange, since some weeds have become resistant.

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