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Farm workers who detassel corn are sickened by pesticides; emergency crews called to decontaminate


Farm workers

(NaturalNews) Growing up in America's heartland (central Iowa), detasseling corn each summer was a great way to earn some extra money. However, the job wasn't easy, as it required waking up early and working manual labor outside in the hot summer sun. Unlike my peers, my parents did not push me to detassle due to the allergic reaction I had from being outside in the cornfields.

Looking back, I realize how much of a blessing this was, because at the time, I never realized how harmful (or even deadly) that summertime job could be. Neither did my family, friends or anyone else in my hometown for that matter. Back then, the word "glyphosate" was never mentioned, despite the fact that it was being used all around us.

Today, mounting research into the variety of toxic chemicals sprayed on our foods has helped society understand exactly how dangerous it is to be a farm worker. It is in fact, one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet, as cancer is more of a certainty than it is a possibility for such workers.

Workers detasseling corn in an Illinois field sickened by pesticides

The very real dangers of working in America's farmlands were recently illustrated, when a group of 60 agricultural workers was sickened by pesticides (likely including Monsanto's glyphosate) in an Illinois cornfield.

The large group of workers, which included several teenagers, arrived to detassle corn in a field near McLean that had been treated the night before with pesticides, according to the Pantagraph. Once they started to detassle, the workers quickly fell ill, suffering from skin irritation and other health problems.

The workers "just entered the field too soon after pesticide was put on by aerial spray," said the local fire department chief. "They were starting to feel some skin irritations more than anything."

The agricultural workers were immediately pulled from the fields and treated at a nearby farmhouse, where they were decontaminated with soap and water before being transported to McLean Christian Church.

Farm workers contaminated with pesticides generate huge emergency response

Fortunately, the incident was not taken lightly, and officials from various emergency response teams acted to provide aid to the workers. Members from the local fire department, sheriff's office and hazardous materials response team arrived on the scene to help decontaminate the affected workers. After the treatment was complete, they were allowed to go home early.

Though severe, the event is not an isolated one. During the summer of 2013, approximately 80 people working in the fields near Pesotum, Illinois, were unintentionally sprayed with a fungicide deployed from a crop-dusting plane.

Nowhere is chronic pesticide exposure more common (and severe) than among agricultural workers. Each year, thousands of farm workers suffer the effects of acute pesticide poisoning, experiencing symptoms such as respiratory problems, nausea and headaches, according to a report by Farm Worker Justice.

Regulations created to protect farm workers haven't been updated in more than two decades

Those, of course, are only the immediate effects of pesticide exposure. Long-term exposure results in far more severe symptoms and ailments including cancer, infertility, neurological disorders and various respiratory conditions.

Individuals working in America's farmland are supposed to be protected under the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) governed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

However, as Farm Worker Justice points out, the regulations haven't been updated in more than 20 years, leaving agricultural workers extremely vulnerable to the revolving door of toxic pesticides continually approved by the EPA, which does very little to truly understand the impact pesticide combinations have on humans, wildlife and important plant life.

Sources:

Pantagraph.com

FarmWorkerJustice.org[PDF]

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