GM Free Cymru

Video: The Human Cost of Glyphosate Spraying in Argentina

Date Added to website 9th August 2014

Video: The Human Cost of Glyphosate Spraying in Argentina

July 16, 2015

Argentinian Photographer Pablo Ernesto Piovano Awarded 2015 MRO Foundation Grant for Documentary Photography

NEW YORK, NY and ARLES, FRANCE--(Marketwired - Jul 16, 2015) - From an amazing array of portfolios documenting important issues, and in a showdown between classic black and white imagery and contemporary color medium, The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography and Film today announced that Pablo Ernesto Piovano of Argentina has been awarded its fifth annual grant for documentary photography.

Piovano's winning project proposal The Human Cost of Agrochemicals will document the indiscriminate use of glyphosate herbicide spray on resistant genetically-modified crops in Argentina and the devastating impact on local populations. In stark black and white images, Mr. Piovano's winning portfolio depicts the powerless and most vulnerable -- children and adult alike with rare birth defects, epilepsy, skin diseases and mental illness -- living in the spray path.

Commenting on Piovano's work, MRO Foundation President and Founder Manuel Rivera-Ortiz said, "Reminding us that while documentary photography is real and not imagined, and while the story he tells as a medium is in fact disturbing, Pablo's work is still beautiful and affecting. As the second Argentinian awarded this grant, we congratulate him and look forward to his completing this imperative story."

Pablo Ernesto Piovano is a photojournalist based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has been a staff photographer for the Página/12 newspaper in Buenos Aires since 2000. Trained from a young age by his photojournalist father, he is a multi-scholarship winner and has mentored with many renowned photographers.

"I'm incredibly honored to be recognized by the foundation," said Pablo Ernesto Piovano. "As an Argentinian, this project is not just a documentary, it is a denouncement of nearly two decades of toxic poisoning and neglect. With the MROF grant, the voices of the affected will be heard."

This year's esteemed jury included:

• Fariba Farshad - Founder of Photo London and Director of Candlestar Ltd, London
• Agnès de Gouvion Saint-Cyr - Curator and photography consultant, Paris
• Francis Hodgson - Photography Critic for the Financial Times, London
• Azu Nwagbogu - Founder and Director of African Artists' Foundation, Lagos
• Enrico Stefanelli - Founder and Director of Photolux Festival, Lucca

"It's a horrific story of great importance to us all, very properly and very well told," declared jurist Francis Hodgson, Photography Critic for the Financial Times. "The pictures are structured and built with harmonic proportions, an outer respect for the subject matter, and all of those old virtues about tones, and colors, and balance, absolutely nicely held."


The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation For Documentary Photography & Film

2015 Photography Laureate – Pablo Ernesto Piovano

Project: The Human Cost of Agrochemicals

Region/Impact: Environmental Damage, Human Toxicity & Exploitation in Argentina

WITH LITTLE INTERNAL STUDY and relying on the ‘scientific’ results of the Monsanto Company, the Argentinian government in 1996 approved commercial use of genetically-modified soybeans. With this approval began the widespread use of Monsanto’s glyphosate herbicide to which the soybeans are resistant.

In 1997 Argentina produced 11 million tons of transgenic soybeans. Seventeen years later, Argentina is the second largest producer in the world of transgenic crops with an annual harvest of 51 million tons, covering 60 percent of the country’s cultivated land area.

With nearly two decades of glyphosate spraying affecting directly or indirectly 13.4 million Argentinians, one third of the country’s population, Argentina has become a field study in toxic disaster with dozens of scientific studies and medical surveys confirming the herbicide’s lethal impact.

Over the last decade, pediatric cancer cases have tripled. Miscarriages and unexplained birth defects have dramatically increased by 400 percent. Skin disorders, mental disabilities and epilepsy are just a few of the documented health effects on those living directly in the spray’s path.

Now banned in 74 countries, transgenic soybeans and their weed-killing partner glyphosate remain an engine of the Argentine economy. Logging of native forests for new croplands is displacing a growing number of villages and yet reducing the number working farmers. With no systematic tracking of its dire effects and limited mainstream media coverage, the voices of the affected remain unheard.

The Human Cost of Agrotoxins will document the impact of 20 years of indiscriminate use of agrochemicals in the rural northeast of Argentina. The project will focus on the Entre Rios, Misiones and Chaco areas and the devastating impact of the people and their environment.