Pablo Piovano

The Human Cost of Agrotoxins


The first survey of areas affected by glyphosate spraying in Argentina revealed that 13.4 million people — one third of the country’s population — are affected.

In 2012, 370 million liters (98 US million gallons) of agrotoxins were used over 21 million hectares, which represents 60 percent of the country’s cultivated land area. This meant that in a decade, cancer cases in children increased threefold and malformations in newborn babies went up 400 percent. So far, in spite of the weight of the formal complaints, there has not been any official systematized information.

The turning point occurred in 1996, when the Government approved the commercialization of transgenic soybeans and the use of the herbicide glyphosate. From then on, the arable lands of the country became an experimental field where dozens of scientific studies and medical surveys speak of the sanitary disaster.

Argentina approved the GMO (genetically modified organism) without conducting their own studies, taking as scientific evidence only the works published by the Monsanto Company. The transgenic soybean cultivation was authorized in only three months through an administrative procedure.

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This work has been driven by my love and tribute to Mother Nature. A critical view of bad use of knowledge and technology that over time drags the “civilization” into losing memory on our ancient sacred relationship with nature.

Important media enterprises have perversely hidden the outrageous numbers of affected population, and became accomplices of those directly responsible like Monsanto, politicians, important landowners and seed pools.

That is why I decided to work to take evidence on this situation, spending long days by my own, travelling over 6000km on my own 20 years old car, and my camera as my contribution to stop this to continue.


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Pablo Piovano was born in Buenos Aires on September 7, 1981. He has been a staff photographer for the Pagina/12 newspaper in Argentina since he was 18 years old.
In 2005 and 2014, he received scholarships from the Garcia Marquez Foundation.
During 2001, he documented the tragic events occurred during the social and political crisis in Argentina, and in 2002, he published the book Episodios Argentinos, Diciembre y Despues.
From 2004 to 2008, he coordinated a photography workshop for children and teenagers at risk at Isla Maciel neighborhood in the City of Buenos Aires.
Since 2006 until the present, Piovano has exhibited every year at the Palais de Glace at the ARGRA (Photojournalists Association of Argentina) Annual Exhibition.
In 2014, he presented an individual exhibition, “Portraits 2004-2014” at the Documentary Photography Biennale of Tucuman, featuring portraits of many influential figures in the country’s politics and culture.

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Paolo Piovano

115 thoughts on “Pablo Piovano – The Human Cost of Agrotoxins”

  1. Pingback: Photo links « BOJAN'S BLOG

  2. One of the most significant and important documentary ‘essays’ (i shutter to leave it at that) to have been published at BURN including all the big name players that have been published here….

    I’m left stunned and stymied that it wasn’t at the top, for at the very least, this story needs to be funded and deepened and prolonged…..

    easily as important as Fusco’s Chernobyl Legacy (if given the time to elongate and deepen the project) and for me superior in treatment to Nachtwey’s TB project….

    how in the world did this get through….

    and btw, this:

  3. What a tragedy! And yes, Bob Black is right. This is a story that needs be funded and deepened and prolonged and put into the conscience of the world.

    While it was all tragic I was particularly struck by the photo of Fabian Piriz and the caption info that said hydrocephalus is an irreversible disability that causes mental disorder.

    Well, it doesn’t need to be. A shunt into the fluid shock absorber of the brain can take away the pressure and, if caught early enough, cognitive and motor skills can be saved. All it takes is a little money and a skilled neurosurgeon. Fabian has as great a right to this treatment as anyone else in this world but has been left without.

    Damn! It’s not right! I will post more on this later.

    Thank you, Pablo, for alerting me to this travesty. I don’t know what to do about it but maybe there is something.

    I want to cry right now. My eyes water.

  4. The story itself is heartbreaking but sadly is typical of the mainly under reported effects that Agri pharma giants are very likely responsible for all over the world, usually visited upon poor communities with very little way to fight it.

    Some of the pictures are stunning. No doubt about that.
    some are also beautiful in composition and as images, and that will for sure make some people uncomfortable. The picture of Lorenzo and his mother is one such picture. There are 3 or 4 others for me. I do get the impression that many of these are set ups, but if that is the case it doesnt really bother me over much.

    I wonder if this work panders to the ‘False Centre’ article by VII photographer Donald Weber that Ross linked to on another thread?

  5. I agree with Bob: this is the best (in the worst possible way) photo essay that I have seen on Burn. The photography is pure quality, and as John says, uncomfortable for being so; you catch yourself thinking ‘great photo, wonderful composition’ and then remember the reality that this is someone’s broken life. I was reminded of W Eugene Smith’s Minamata essay: high praise indeed.

    Bill is correct about the shunt too, the fluid is drained by the shunt into the bloodstream.

    Often such stories seem remote and happen, we subconsciously think, to ‘other people, somewhere else’ but this is Argentina; hardly World’s End, and has affected a third of the population according to the essay here. I find this astounding and wonder why I haven’t heard of the disaster from mainstream news. Also, in our world of globally-sourced food, we may be eating the soya. Food for thought.

    Thank you, Pablo, for showing us your work. I hope you get the recognition you deserve for your efforts and that it helps in some way the people caught up in this catastrophe.


  6. On a related note. I took my ex to a garden center today to buy grass seed and wild flower seeds and also weedkiller….we could not find a single one that was not Glyphosate based.

  7. This is a shocking good essay, about a subject I had no idea on. For me it reminded me of Salgado’s early work in Africa. Beautiful, and distressing.

    The worldwide food industry is sicking, and it has got a lot to answer for the major amount of the worlds health problems, all in the name of dividends and profit.

    Thank you Pablo, I hope this work gets seen by many more people.


    P.S. Anton, or someone else, the link doesn’t work, and if it did, it points to the wrong website. If Pablo has a home page, I can’t find it.

  8. I read the comments first, then went to the photographs to see what all the hoopla was about.
    This is heartbreaking and Minamata all over again.
    The above comments are justified, and considering what happened to Gene Smith in his reporting, stay safe Paolo. You are brave and very talented.

  9. All these things get lost if we don’t clean up our own backyards.

    The 3 acres of blackberries on the property are under control and 24 litres of the 25 litre tank of roundup is still sitting in the shed so far I have managed to use it sparingly, but it has been a heck of a physical effort.

    The new breed of farmers in Australia are on a more eco friendly path but the enemy (monsanto etc) combined with the demands of food by humanity will take its toll unless it is an effort by all. Looking at photos and saying ahhhh is not enough.

  10. and yes I worked as a pest controller in the late 1970’s used the all chemicals available the chlordane, dieldrin, Aldrin, 245d etc Like most it was a job and did what seemed to be important in terms of the profession. Yep sometimes we are wrong and this was the case with me.

  11. Imants, what changes would you suggest?

    My girlfriend and I have been switching over to organic food where we can afford (basically everything other than meats now), but I’m not sure that the whole world could be sustained on such food. Is the world to full?

  12. An incredible essay on a topic that needs much broader coverage. The photography is right on. W. Eugene Smith definitely comes to mind when looking at this images.

    Sadly, things will only get worse. You can’t feed 7 billion people without GMOs, pesticides and other nasty stuff. If we continue to use them, many people will die directly of their effects. If we stop using them, many will die of starvation.

    Over population is the real problem. And there seems to be little will to control that problem, either.

    Many of my vegan friends (disclosure, I’m vegan) consider Monsanto to be the great satan. My own opinion is more nuanced than that. It’s hard to decide whether, in total, what they make is a response to the population problem, a contributor to it; or, some of both.

  13. Personally I see the so called new organic movement not much more than a form of foodie selfie. All our food has been modified genetically it is just that we are able to speed up the process the so called organic does not necessary mean better. All we can do is ftry to change the culture of the chemical companies for a start. I don’t have THE answer just try to do my bit

    As for the world I am sure if it really cares what happens to the human race as the world will still exist in some form another.

  14. Of course Imants, I am well aware that we have a choice. Our choices do have a little influence over what gets made though – at least somewhat. I guess though your point is that those who can’t afford the more expensive food will always be getting those that are produced with heavy chemicals for higher yields.

    If we’re saying over population is the problem, there is no fix, unless someone wants to wipe out a vast amounts of humans.

  15. Which is a more disturbing idea for me than chemicals ruining peoples lives… which sounds like I’m condoning Argentina’s choices, but I’m not… more an either/or.

  16. I, duh, agree – important work done very well. Since work like this should be all about the subject and not so much the photographer, I don’t care if it’s visually derivative of W. Eugene Smith (which I don’t really see) or James Nachtwey (which perhaps I do), as some have implied above. The question I have regarding style is if the ultra sharp black and white is the best way to communicate the story in such a way as to bring the most attention to it. Perhaps it is. I’m not saying it’s not. I don’t know.

    Personally, when I’d click on Burn and that image of the little boy would pop up, my first reaction was to click away from it as fast as I could. I suspect that’s not uncommon. But since work like this has so little chance of being seen by all that many people (though perhaps Lens Blog could help in that regard?), perhaps it’s more aimed at people with influence and opinion makers more than the general public?

    The first thing it did, however, was made me wonder why we don’t see more of those problems in the U.S., which is the number one consumer of those types of chemicals (Argentina, surprisingly, is number two according to this map. Do those health problems exist here and are much better hidden? Does the U.S. really handle the chemicals that much more safely than Argentina? Or, is it more a problem with workers rights than problem chemicals? Are there different chemicals involved, and glyphosate isn’t really the culprit?

    “You can’t feed 7 billion people without GMOs, pesticides and other nasty stuff.”

    Actually, you probably can. A large percentage of farmland is used to produce feed to fatten up animals for slaughter.

    Though, as an organic farmer myself, I can tell you it’s not as easy as it sounds. Fortunately, as imants so rightly points out, I am among those who have a choice, so I can enjoy watching, and photographing, those cool-looking green and yellow worms that so enjoy eating my cabbage, and devote most of my (non-gmo) corn crop to attracting crows for my upcoming photo project, tentatively titled “murder of crows.”

    Although meant to be somewhat self-flagellating and to illustrate imants’s point, the inappropriate flippancy of that last paragraph does illustrate a lot of what we are up against in this, or pretty much any other, fight for justice in which the comfortable have the power, and mostly use it to look the other way. Hopefully, strong work such as Pablo’s will break through and make a real difference.

  17. I was not going to post this information here until just before my surgery, but sometimes coincidence, even though I am certain it is coincidence, happens in such a seemingly unlikely way that it feels like more than coincidence.

    The coincidence to which I refer is to open up Burn, to be shocked to see the picture of Fabian suffering from the “irreversible brain disorder” hydrocephalus and then, less than 12 hours later, to be given the date for my own pending surgery – for hydrocephalus! The photo shook me in multiple ways, but most strongly over the fact that a condition that is very treatable is so hard to get in this impoverished place that even the author of the piece has bought into the idea that it is untreatable. Not true. And yet, for economic reasons, so far out of reach it is true for Fabian.

    The next obvious question: I don’t know how I got mine. A chemical in my food? One of the many times I have taken a bad fall in the course of doing my work? I just don’t know and the doctors haven’t a clue. I do know the pressure on my brain has pushed me into a constant fog, I am under doctors order’s to stay put, out of the bush and away from the Arctic Slope – where all my work is right now and am not doing the shooting I need to be doing at this critical time in the history of the Arctic. It is making my life miserable and could end my life in a moment, – but its not going to. I am taking a miserable but effective drug to ensure that does not happen between and now and my surgery, September 15.

    But you know what? I will get my surgery and I will get over it and I will yet make some significant additions to my body of work.

    But Fabian – what potentials was he born with? He still lives and as long as he does he cannot be written off, but he has lost so much that he did not need to lose.

  18. Organic farming can keep up, I’m pretty sure that there are enough calories in the world but like much else it’s not fairly distributed. The thing for everyone to do is vote with their wallet. I think convenience is a deadly sin but it’s not super hard to give your money to local organic farmers, eat seasonally and eat less meat.

  19. Frostfrog: Sorry to hear about your hydrocephalus. But keep in mind that not all hydrocephalus is the same. For you it is for sure acquired rather than congenital. And acquired hydrocephalus can be either obstructive or non obstructive…ie normal pressure hydrocephalus is quite common. It can be caused by tumors, infection, head injuries…surgery can be curative depending on the cause. I wish you the best.

    For this child it is most likely congenital. And likely associated with neurodevelopmental defects.
    This is a brilliant essay. The best I’ve seen in a very long time. There is no question that glyphosate is extremely toxic…most notably carcinogenic. But these subjects suffer from a large variety of disorders and perhaps not all are directly related to agrotoxins. But I suppose that is besides the point…anything that kills the nervous system of a living organism I tend to stay away from…

  20. Yes, that’s true. Virgil, and mine is non-communicating, or obstructive, but since my diagnosis I have done enough googling and reading about it to learn that the various types can all be treated and the basic treatment is the same for all.

  21. In the interests of fairness considering the well informed conversation going on on this site around this essay i thought i would look in on the Burn faecebook page because apparently thats where all the action is and where all the hipsters go.
    I found about 6 comments or so including
    cool info
    really artistic
    awesome info
    incredible essay.
    but of course 371 people had managed to press a button indicating that they liked it as well…so I guess thats all right then.

    Think I much prefer it here, deserted and unfashionable as it seems to be, at least its rarely vacuous.

  22. Frostfrog, sorry to hear about your hydrocephalus. Like you say, you’re one of the lucky ones. When the time comes, I wish you a successful operation and speedy recovery.

    John, I must take some responsibility for the ‘incredible essay’ comment.

  23. On the business side, I work some with Facebook analytics in my day job. My takeaways are that it’s a good way to drive traffic to your site. That said, it doesn’t drive near as much traffic as you would think from the number of people who see the post on Facebook or click “Like.” It, as they say, casts a wide net and the quality of the haul is not good percentage-wise, but a relatively small percentage of a lot of people is still a good thing.

    On the personal side, I’m willing to bet that future studies (if they haven’t been done already) will find that getting a “Like” releases some kind of opiate in the brain that becomes addictive, causing people to chase more and more “Likes.” This, I think, for the serious photographer or writer or artist is often not a good thing, especially when one has a lot of followers. I hate to sound elitist, but the masses most often prefer comfort food and super hero movies to French cuisine and Tarkovsky. If you are doing serious journalism or art, chasing “Likes” is probably not going to be good for your work.

    What I’ve often wondered is why new commenters becoming regulars are so few and far between? A big part of it, I figure, is that internet commenting is generally seen as déclassé. But I also wonder if it’s due to changes in the culture, particularly for young people, that I so often read about: changes in which it’s alleged that young people nowadays are so carefully sheltered from negative criticism that they have been trained not to give it, to look away when they see it and to flop on the fainting couch when they get it. Perhaps that in some part explains why so many people who click “Like” on Facebook don’t even bother to click through to the work they claim to be liking?

  24. mw, I wouldn’t say I’m young anymore (but not so old either… 28 two days ago). Either way, I don’t comment nearly as much as you and the others here do, but I’ve been reading the comments for years now, as they are often full of nuggets of gold. A reason why sometimes I don’t comment is I feel there is little for me to add, as the standard of conversation is very high, and sometimes gets a bit lofty.

    I’m sure new commentors are few and far between, as the relative time investment with reading and writing a reply is significantly longer than a quick push of the thumb on instagram or facebook to heart / like. That said, I think they’re missing out on thinking ‘on paper’.

    It’s not that the barrier to entry is high, to it, feels more like a home with an open door, just I want to listen a lot before I start adding your own voice.

  25. First, like everyone else, apparently, I thought of Smith’s Minamata essay. This is powerful and we will not be hearing the end of this; you can’t have an ecological disaster on this scale, a disaster affecting nearly a third of a nation’s population and think that the matter can be swept under a rug, especially since the practices involved are, in all likelihood, not limited to Argentina. Second, Bill, I am sorry to hear about the surgery and good luck with it. Third, vis-a-vis Facebook and the other social media, I am on them, yes, but I can’t help but think that these platforms almost encourage superficial thinking on the users’ parts, particularly if the users are young. No one seems to want young people to think deeply about the world anymore, so when the young come face to face with a problem like the one Mr Piovano is documenting, they fall back on the platitudes they know or they spare themselves the effort of thinking of something to say and just click Like. It’s not really their fault; when the schools stuff their students’ minds with intellectual mush then no one should be surprised that mush is what you get back. And lastly, Peter, I’ve had my day job for a little longer than you’ve been alive, so trust me on this: you’re young. Enjoy it while you got it, because it doesn’t last. ;-)

  26. AKAKY. “No one seems to want young people to think deeply about the world anymore”
    Hopefully to gladden your mind just a little. Some very bohemian anarchist friends of mine currently have their youngest on the verge of going to oxbridge to read PPE and another friends daughter is on her way to Glasgow university to read classics. Both of these young adults, Tiger and Irie, have had very very libertarian and Bohemian upbringings but knowledge and educating ones self have always been highly encouraged. So despair not.
    Note: PPE- politics philosophy economics. Oxbridge- Oxford and Cambridge university colleges.Among the finest in the world.

  27. Oh man, left speechless, tears in my eyes. Powerful important work.

    I so fear for our future generations, all over the world, unless there is true paradigm shift as to what we put into our bodies. This is the radical grotesque outcome of large exposure to these toxins, but all over the globe people are being slowly poisoned by Monsanto and their ilk at low doses, and possibly living painful unhappy lives due to ignorance of how corporations control their very well being and untimely deaths. I mean nobody really knows what processed food and reliance on one or two grains controlled by big business, who now have glyphosate implanted genetically into the grain, are going to to do our future DNA. The third world has been sold a bill of goods in the name of money, and chemical corporations never see the pain and misery from their sterile factories and board rooms. They rely on bought and sold ‘scientists’ and ‘doctors’ to do shaky studies declaring this stuff safe.
    And the Chinese! They’ll manufacture anything for anybody no matter how stark raving mad it might make you.

    I have MCS myself (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity). A person walks in the room with perfume on I get a headache. Or a whiff of tobacco smoke, or lingering too long at a gas station. I can’t even imagine being in places like these, and working with this stuff. Hell on earth. The poor children. Poor all of them. What price we pay for 99cent hamburgers….

  28. MW:

    The reason you don’t see it among big farmers here is because they often sit inside AC vehicles, controlling much of what they do via computer. Plus a much much smaller part of the population is actually responsible for growing our food compared to developing countries who don’t have the automation. But they’re exposure might come out later with health problems, ironically from eating their own food!

    A bigger problem is the overall homogenization of our seed crops. A hundred years ago their was many different types of wheat grown. Now there’s one, or two. And those are owned by Monsanto.

    Show the way with your pocket book. Eat organic. Eat less grains and processed foods (organic or not).
    Smaller portions. This may very well be the photo essay that finally convinces family and friends. Its going to take education because we’ve all been sold a bill of goods, farmer on up. The first place to start is to change what you put into your bodies. You and you alone have that power.

  29. CHARLES. ‘The first place to start is to change what you put into your bodies. You and you alone have that power.’ A nice idea Charles but also a very middle class one. The vast majority of people affected live in extreme poverty around the globe and none of the above ‘lifestyle choices’ are available to them. Just getting enough to survive is a daily struggle. They exercise their right to boycott a product and their kids starve.

    I am bothered by the statistic that 1/3 of the population of Argentina is affected by this. At current levels that almost 14,000,000 people. A bit of research before trotting that out as a fact because we saw it stated in an online essay might be prudent.

  30. Thank you, Virgil, Peter and Akaky for your expressions of support here and MW and Mike R for your encouragement off the forum. It means a great deal to me, as this is one damn scary thing, especially as my neurologist has presented it to me.

    But I am mostly confident all will go well, this horrible fog will be removed from my brain and life will move forward once again. I have completely lost late summer and fall, though, as the doctor has ordered me to stay away from the remote places where I do my real work, and never to be far from a top flight emergency room, just in case.

    I had some big things planned for late summer and fall.

  31. John,

    I realized that the second I wrote it. But as its mostly middle class people that come here and comment on photos of suffering people, its at least something you can do now if you have the means. I’ve seen well to do people in the grocery store purposely pass over organic for non-organic. If everybody that has the means bought organic grapes from Chile (or whatever) then it would be more impetus for those farmers to convert over. But I’m sure many of means think organic is some kind of overpriced hippy shit conspiracy to make them gay or whatever. But yeah, go outside any major urban area (and even within certain neighborhoods of such) and its tough or next to impossible to even find. Sadly, we’re the only country in the world whose population dies in epidemic numbers from eating too much vs too little. Don’t eat Thai shrimp, don’t eat fast food hamburgers, etc etc. Sure it won’t affect directly the suffering of these people in the photographs but the change needs to start somewhere.

  32. Pablo…

    Brilliant photography. Powerful, difficult to look at. Congrats on it appearing in Burn.

    Now, if I may, I’d like to ask you some questions about the commentary.

    From all the literature I’ve read, glyphosate is one of the least dangerous weed-killers ever developed. That doesn’t mean it is harmless, just means like we all know, it’s the dose that matters.

    So forgive me if I misread, but I get the impression you are saying that glyphosate is responsible for all of the maladies represented in your work. If this is so, what is the evidence you are relying on? Are there any systematic peer reviewed studies you can point to that backs up what you appear to be saying? Again, I apologize if I read you incorrectly.

    Journalistically speaking, I think it’s important to keep in mind and to show that correlation does not mean causation. There may be other unknown factors involved. Was that ever a part of your consideration?

    I’d love to hear your thoughts. (anyone else’s, as well.)


  33. Iguess he means that it has been used in the same dosage as 245T he defoliaint used in Vietnam during the war, those effects are still fealt today. Pyrethrum as a insectidice is natural and an alternative to glyphotate but would require masses of fields to produce thus taking land from agriculture
    I guess it is about trying to find that balance but the chemical companies show no interest. No doubt there is a najor problem and causes autism, cancer etc but I don’t think that all thise 14 million are effected to the level shown in the images. This where chemical companies and governments tear a essay of this nature apart and call it exaggeration. Greenpeace has learnt that in order for change to occur a lot of PR and research must be done to convince the community at large. Pablo needs to align himself to other organisations, the lone wolf as he is gets wiped and forgotten.

    Organic is overpriced but what makes it “a bit like Woodstock I lost my way” is that it isn’t anymore nutritious than the chemically produced crops, so the middle man is making a lot of money from nothing.This puts it out of reach from most of the population.

  34. Michael Kircher
    Right on.
    The first step is to have confirmation of the medical diagnoses. That requires a review of medical records.
    Icthyosis for ex is an inherited disorder not caused by toxins.
    Congenital hydrocephalus has many causes, commonly intrauterine infection like toxoplasmosis who’s is common in Argentina.
    Brain paralysis is not a medical diagnosis.
    Medically this essay can be ripped to shreds.
    On the other hand it is an incredibly potent and emotional essay that will get people fired up. For good reasons.
    For sure there is ample evidence that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic in humans causing non Hodgkin’s lymphoma…but none of these subjects have this diagnosis.
    Imants is right…Pablo may want to align himself with other organizations…
    It gets complicated when searching for the truth.
    Still…a brilliant piece of work.

  35. “Medically this essay can be ripped to shreds.”

    “Still…a brilliant piece of work.”

    If it’s not factual, it’s not a brilliant piece of work. If it’s not factual, it comes off as propagandistic misinformation that could well prove counterproductive to the cause of reigning in toxic agribusiness. Often bad journalism is worse than no journalism at all. If glyphosate is not the cause of the illnesses in any of those photos, then the text that accompanies those photos is very bad journalism. I really hope that’s not the case, but if it is, the text should be made factual immediately. I’d hate to see that kind of photography turned into a propaganda victory for Monsanto.

  36. A response from Author or Publisher would be appropriate at some point.
    My very limited knowledge and about an hours research have arrived at the same set of data that other commentators here have voiced. Also, The USA itself uses about 128,000 tons of glyphosate yearly. If it was purely glyphosate causing all the genetic damage then surely USA would have massive amount of cases and corresponding lawsuits etc..
    Like Mr Webster I would hate to see such powerful imagery be wasted, or even used against, the issue they were made to highlight.

  37. “No doubt there is a najor problem and causes autism, cancer etc …”

    Not sure what you are saying here. Are you saying glyphosate causes autism? Other herbicides? Pesticides? Monsanto?

  38. Studies show that it is carcinogenic to humans if it does follow the trail of 245T I am sure it would have neurological effects on the foetus.I have read that it potentially can cause autism, whether this is a fact I am not sure most of these things only come out after years of research. I do know that dieldrin sldrin are very carcinogenic snd pretty nasty stuff.

  39. I am referring to large dosages and over use…. I guess having used various chemicals I am a bit sensitive to its potential harm as it does kill insects, plants etc so it can’t be too good for humans

  40. Herbicides, pesticides…nasty chemicals for sure…thats how they work. But linking them to diseases is not so easy. Autism is a poor example…only a few anecdotal reports suggesting a potential link…but not to glyphosate. We don’t even know what autism is…we don’t understand the pathophysiology…but things like maternal age, infection, anti epileptic drug use in the mother, familial/genetic risks…all increase risk of autism.
    The question is how much “evidence” does one need to support this essay? Maybe anecdotal evidence is enough…to wake people up…but the author should clarify his statement.
    Truth is we will never have perfect data here…no one will ever do a randomized prospective trial exposing human subjects to varying doses of glyphosate or any other toxin…but some science should be included in his artist statement…

  41. The problem is that we have no idea what low long term exposure of much of modern toxins will do the human system. For example I recently discovered I have the MTHFR DNA mutation, that decreases my ability to detoxify by 70%. Somewhat easily fixed by supplementation, but still what has that 50 years of toxic load done to my system (a big part of my chronic ill health for sure). No wonder I would go into a darkroom (remember those?) and immediately feel sick. And most don’t have the money, situation, or education to turn the tide around (and its not an easy process even if you do). So if your system is already compromised then exposure to even small amounts of toxins such as these can tip you over the edge while others soldier on no problem. The human body is very complex, and so very difficult to run meaningful studies on.

  42. I understand, Charles. And I feel for you… But that’s a different problem.

    What I’m trying to get at with this particular essay is whether or not glyphosate actually caused all of these maladies, as the photog seems to suggests.

  43. And I disagree with this statement: “The human body is very complex, and so very difficult to run meaningful studies on.”

    Sure the body is complex, but running meaningful studies is not nearly as difficult as you say. It may be for this or that, but it isn’t inherently difficult. We know quite a lot about the human body. Much more than even just a generation ago.

  44. Michael I guess it could boil down to what the glyphsate is mixed with ‘,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,245T ended up as a toxic compound whereas 24D was used for half a century with little residual effect. Though the use of 24D is suspened in many countries.
    So it could be that in arrgentinia some of the glyphosate was impure. I think the Dutch and mexican governments have restricted the sales of glyphoate to the general public though commercial useage is still permitted. Dome say that that is based on dodgey findings.

    In the washup I am still willing to use roundup sparingly

  45. i think it is necessary and important that the author step in and comment…not about the work per se, but about the experience and the research…i surely don’t expect the photographer to spend the amount of time others have done when published (although, in a publication such as BURN, i always felt it important that i write and comment and answer questions to the audience as much as possible when i was published)…the work is too important and the details too essential, to pass it off as just another photo essay on line….

    my hope, is that will happen….critical, i would say…if this kind of work is reportage and, to a certain extent, advocacy, i would say it is incumbent on the the author…

    let us hope that happens…..

    otherwise, it gets all shot up with words and pixels…..

    i rarely ask an author to comment and reply, but i think when one works hard and tries to open the discussion and awareness of a story, it becomes their responsibility…otherwise it is lost…


  46. certainly the level and critical assurance that is foster here can not happen at FB….what better place to speak out and up and shine the light…

  47. Should read

    Michael I guess it could boil down to what the glyphosate is mixed with ‘,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,245T ended up as a toxic compound whereas 24D was used for half a century with little residual effect. Though the use of 24D is suspened in many countries.
    So it could be that in Argentina some of the glyphosate was impure. I think the Dutch and Mexican governments have restricted the sales of glyphosate to the general public though commercial useage is still permitted. Some say that that is based on dodgey findings.

    In the washup I am still willing to use roundup sparingly

  48. Arturo Avellaneda

    The cases shown are part of a big and growing statistic abaut de impact of toxicity used inthe agriculturo of Argentina. Many medical organisations of this country describe a population impact near 400 % o 300 % under the historical value of each sadness in each cases. Please undertand that the individual cases can’t demostrate all the configuration of the proble.

  49. “The human body is very complex, and so very difficult to run meaningful studies on.”

    If this were true, modern medicine wouldn’t exist.

  50. Akaky, MK,

    Of course (I’m a closet ‘House’ fan myself), but more and more are finding out that modern medicine may sometimes be doing just as much harm as good, and this is even from some doctors themselves. Its the unvarying reliance on those tests, scans, studies, etc for absolute answers that can really trip up Western medicine. Of course with a known virus or bacteria its pretty easy; its when one gets into low grade long term exposure or chronic conditions that it gets tricky.

    Anyway, too exhausted from having one of my ill weekends to get into it to much now.



  51. Charles, if modern medicine was “doing just as much harm as good” there would be millions dying every day in America alone.

    And it is modern medicine that has made it “pretty easy” with known viruses and bacteria.

  52. I’m with Charles on this one. At least based on my readings and from memory (which originally came from this book: which is full of citations), studies have shown that doctor intervention for the minor things, tend to reduce life (being a case of, we’re a doctor, we must be shown to be doing something). Of course modern medicine is fantastic, but more towards the more extreme ends of problems (removing cancers, surgery after being hit by a car). I’m not at home, otherwise I’d dig the book out and find the papers… I’ll be back tomorrow though.

  53. Charles, Peter
    In the U.S. Life expectancy has doubled in the past 150 years. Stroke has dropped from 3rd to 5th as a cause of death with many recovering full function in days. Some cancer are curable ie breast, colon, prostate and many others are manageable life long. Certainly modern medicine is mostly responsible for this.
    Broad generalizations are dangerous friends.
    Certainly many of us can name specific examples where an intervention may have caused more harm than good. But this in no way detracts from the overall good that modern medicine provides.
    For Christ sake….soon we may have autologous stem cells that may halt or reverse certain neurodegenrative disorders.
    Psychiatric disorders on the other hand…well we’ve made little or no progress.

  54. Pablo Ernesto Piovano

    Buenos días a todos, aquí estoy!
    Agradezco el interés que despertó el tema, realmente es necesario.
    Voy a intentar dar mi respuesta en español ya que no tengo fluidez con el inglés y es compleja la explicación. Ojalá alguien pueda traducirla.
    Por empezar quiero decir que probablemente no todos queden conformes con la respuesta.
    El principal problema es que no existe a nivel gubernamental ningún dato estadístico serio.
    Los organismos que dependen del Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología quienes tienen la capacidad de poder dar respuestas científicas y biológicas no poseen estudios sistematizados ni oficiales al respecto de este tema, dado que el negocio de la agricultura transgénica responde a grandes y complejos intereses del estado.
    Lo que verdaderamente está en juego es el control de los alimentos y la salud de la población. Por siglos y milenios la humanidad se ha alimentado con lo que la tierra nos ha regalado. No puedo explicarme que la mayoría de la producción alimenticia de un país se produzca en un laboratorio.
    En lo que respecta a los casos particulares de las victimas los casos como el de Fabián se repiten llamativamente en Misiones y necesitaríamos de un equipo médico para determinar su implicancia directa. Su madre, como otras madres que tienen a sus hijos con malformaciones congénitas entienden que responde a la cantidad de agrotóxicos que se utilizan en la zona.
    Como foto-periodista, además de las investigaciones independientes que existen, mi labor se basó en los testimonios de las víctimas. Todas las personas retratadas atribuyen sus daños físicos a los agroquímicos. Para hacer este trabajo viajé 6000Km. durante dos meses en dos oportunidades. En el segundo viaje se sumó un periodista que está investigando a la par esta situación.
    También quiero decir que no soy el primero en constatar este escenario, en algunos lugares por donde pasaba habían estado periodistas extranjeros y algunos pocos nacionales:
    Agencia AP:
    Dario Aranda es uno de los periodistas y compañero que mas comprometidos con este tema en el pais.
    Cuando regresé de mi primer viaje por el Norte y el Litoral de la Argentina me enteré que la organización mundial de la salud se pronunció diciendo que el uso de glifosato podría ser cancerígeno y romper los cromosomas del ADN. Seguramente esta información la tienen hace mucho tiempo y realmente no trae ninguna novedad más que corroborar el escenario que se vive en las poblaciones donde se cultiva con transgénico.

    El científico Andrés Carrasco, jefe del Laboratorio de Embriología Molecular de la Universidad de Buenos Aires, confirmó en 2009 que el glifosato era letal y producía malformaciones en embriones anfibios. El fue la punta de flecha para buena parte de la comunidad científica independiente del país.

    En la actualidad hay conformada una red de médicos de pueblos fumigados que nuclea a
    30 mil profesionales de la salud que trabajan a lo largo y ancho del país y se encuentran cotidianamente con una alarmante cantidad de casos oncológicos, malformaciones congénitas y abortos espontáneos en las zonas expuestas a repetidas fumigaciones.

    Esta red de médicos independientes ofició de vocero de las investigaciones que llevan a cabo. A nivel oficial y desde los medios periodísticos concentrados del país lo que más ruido hace es el silencio.
    A su vez las asambleas organizadas de vecinos en el barrio cordobés de Malvinas Argentinas se convirtió en el epicentro mundial de la lucha contra la multinacional Monsanto. Sus vecinos bloquean desde el 19 de septiembre de 2013 la construcción de la planta acopiadora de semillas transgénicas más grande del mundo. Desde entonces sufren represiones de la policía y de patotas. La resistencia de la comunidad, liderada por la Asamblea de Vecinos Malvinas Lucha por la Vida, ha logrado frenar este proyecto.
    Los relevamientos sanitarios realizados por las universidades de Rosario y de Córdoba en Monte Maíz, por ejemplo, anuncian cifras oncológicas tres veces por encima de la media nacional.
    Es llamativa la inercia que existe para pronunciarse ante un escenario que me atrevo a llamar un genocidio por goteo.
    En Argentina las fumigaciones se realizan de manera terrestre, manual y área. Cuando se hace de manera aérea, es notable cómo las salas de salud se llenan de pobladores con síntomas respiratorios o en la piel.
    La estadística de 13 millones de afectados responde a que el 60% del territorio cultivable del país es fumigado con agrotóxicos y todas estas personas están expuestas, incluyendo las aguas de los ríos. La deriva de estos aviones aero-aplicadores puede recorrer 32 Km.
    Hace menos de un mes aproximadamente en Mar del Plata un laboratorio, el Instituto de Análisis Fares Taie, desarrolló un método de análisis por orina a través del cual se puede determinar la presencia de glifosato y los primeros resultados arrojan que de 250 personas que lo hicieron el 70% tenía residuos de glifosato.
    El problema de este agroquímico y de otros es que se aloja en las grasas del cuerpo y es acumulativo.
    He estado en poblaciones donde las escuelas para discapacitados aumentaron al mismo pulso de la siembra transgénica.
    En Saenz Peña, una localidad de la provincia de Chaco que cuenta con una población de 89.800 hay aproximadamente siete escuelas privadas y concentran una matrícula de 700 niños con discapacidades diferentes.
    Si conectamos este dato al nuevo modelo de siembra, se entiende por qué hace 10 años la cifra de matriculados, en Sáenz Peña y en ese tipo de escuelas, era sólo de 100. Es decir, 7 veces menor.
    La problemática se acrecienta por diferentes motivos. Uno es que en zonas como Napenay (Chaco), el agua es muy escasa, allí se abre una canilla común 2 horas al día y se usa como recipiente de uso familiar los bidones de Glifosato.
    La Comisión de Investigación de Contaminantes del Agua de la provincia del Chaco determinó en 2010 que, en una década, los casos de cáncer en niños se triplicaron y las malformaciones en recién nacidos aumentaron un 400 por ciento.

    En la localidad de San Salvador, Misiones que es la mayor productora de tabaco en la Argentina es alarmante caminar sus calles y ver los casos de discapacidad en cada cuadra. El tabaco necesita una dosis muy alta de agrotóxicos. No solo el glifosato es empleado en los cultivos sino también el 2,4D, el furadan, el bromuro de metilo y otros herbicidas e insecticidas altamente tóxicos.
    Estos agroquímicos están prohibidos en 74 países, sin embargo en la Argentina su uso es masivo. Según la red de médicos de pueblos fumigados se utilizan 370 millones de toneladas anualmente. Greenpeace habla 200 millones, de cualquier manera la cifra es abrumadora.
    He escuchado testimonios de trabajadores donde las empresas tabacaleras le obligan a utilizar mas agroquímicos de lo necesario y luego les descuentan el 50% de las ganancias de producción. Es decir, un colono minifundista que cultiva dos hectáreas de tabaco, debe darle la mitad de sus ganancias a Philips Morris por proveerle los agroquímicos. Y si se niegan a comprar los productos químicos no puede vender sus cosecha. Es un circulo del cual los trabajadores quedan presos.
    Por último quisiera aclarar que el trabajo lo hice de manera independiente. No me contrató ninguna organización ni ningún medio periodístico.
    El trabajo fue hecho durante mis vacaciones y con el dinero que pude reunir. Aún no lo he podido publicar en el exterior salvo en los lugares donde el ensayo concurso . Actualmente cuento con el apoyo de la fundación Manuel Rivera Ortiz para continuar con el ensayo y profundizar las investigaciones.
    No considero que este trabajo pueda ser útil a las corporaciones, en todo caso debería aplicarse el Principio Precautorio a los efectos del uso de los avances tecnológicos sobre la naturaleza.
    “La Ley General del Ambiente (ley 25.675) dispone aplicar el principio precautorio “cuando haya peligro de daño grave o irreversible, la ausencia de información o certeza científica no deberá utilizarse como razón para postergar la adopción de medidas eficaces en función de los costos, para impedir la degradación del medio ambiente”.
    Aquí les dejo un link con un audiovisual que completa el trabajo:


  55. Look, I believe in a lot of modern medicine. I think in the future the first line of defense will be DNA testing, esp for cancer and chronic illness, that can then be specifically targeted vs these broad base killers like chemo and antibiotics. A DNA test will be required by your GP if you haven’t already had it done. Stem cell will be huge. I also think we’re going to start seeing a bell curve on life expectancy if we don’t get our lifestyles and food supply in order. Just today I was reading an article about alzheimer’s striking younger and younger and actually killing people. Like obesity and diabetes its becoming an epidemic. Sure, we’re great at keeping people alive longer (no matter how poor their quality of life might be after) but still awful at preventing the need for invasive measures to begin with.

    There has to be a paradigm shift in thinking by both patients and doctors about the overall nature of the body and how its an actual ecosystem. Too many people (including doctors) are divorced from how the body actually works. They just want to receive a pill or cut something out and call it a day. Sinus infection? Here, kill it and everything else in your system with this antibiotic when a neti pot might and some herbs might do (no kickbacks from the sea salt manufacturers though). No thought of also prescribing probiotics along with it (and you need more than a sugary Yoplait). I’ve heard well meaning doctors say, in discussing kidney disease, that coffee is perfectly okay. Any naturopath or traditional Chinese doctor will say that’s totally wrong. And the average hours of nutritional training in medical schools in the US is actually decreasing, down to 19 hours average, even though its proven that diet is the number one cause of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc. But there’s no $ in prescribing kale.

    Lets say your body is a forest, and a certain species is wiped out in that forest and the trees start to die. Instead of repairing the root cause (reintroducing said species) many western doctors would instead cut down the trees – well you’ll be fine as a meadow. Of course once the meadow starts to die… The big problem many of my alternative healer friends have is patients that come to them as a last resort after everything else hasn’t worked. If only they’d been coming in conjunction all along then they might have been able to do them some real good. That’s the Chinese system. For example my wife had a bad rare auto-immune disorder during her pregnancies that made her break out in an awful (and I mean you don’t want to see pics awful) rash. Her Chinese acupuncturists and our best in city naturopath were stumped and finally told her to go take steroids but we’ll be here to support you with that. So best of both worlds. My ex-wife was given six months to live by NHS doctors from adult leukemia soon after we met (’92). She beat it all with natural healing and now has two wonderful children. She tried one dose of chemo and felt like she already had one foot in the grave.

    But I’m not a totally radical outlier – my children were born in hospital, fully vaccinated, have my yearly GP exam (I have great GP) and if I break something I’m not going to burn sage sticks over it. Modern medicine has its place for sure, and we are truly lucky and blessed with many of its advances. But far too often I see people around me (esp older ones) trusting their doctors to an early grave.

  56. Michael….havent laughed so hard in a long time.

    Gotta stick up for coffee. Number one source of antioxidants hands down. Dozens of peer reviewed articles showing its protective effect against cardiovascular disease, stroke, cognition, alzheimers, Parkinson’s, diabetes, liver, lung, breast, prostate cancer…and all cause mortality. Virtually all myths about the dangers of coffee have been disproved. This is not opinion. This is evidence based medicine. Science. I’ll have mine black.

    As for Alzheimer’s appearing earlier…not true. Incidence is rising due to aging population. If one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s under age 65 it is likely a misdiagnosis and another form of dementia.

    I’ll say it again…we must be careful not to confuse belief and opinion as fact.

    Good morning everyone, I’m here!
    I appreciate the interest aroused by the subject, really necessary.
    I’ll try to give my answer in Spanish and I have no fluency in English and the explanation is complex. Hopefully someone can translate.
    For starters, I mean that we all probably do not remain satisfied with the answer.
    The main problem is that there is no serious government-level statistic.
    The agencies under the Ministry of Science and Technology who have the ability to provide scientific and biological responses do not have systematic or official studies regarding this issue, given that the business of GM agriculture responds to large and complex state interests.
    What is really at stake is the control of food and the health of the population. For centuries and millennia humanity it has fed what the earth has given us. I can not explain that most food production in a country occurs in a laboratory.
    With regard to individual cases of victims cases like Fabian conspicuously repeated in Misiones and need a medical team to determine their direct implications. His mother, like other mothers who have their children with congenital malformations understand that responds to the amount of pesticides used in the area.
    As a photojournalist, in addition to independent research that exists, my work was based on the testimonies of victims. All sitters attribute their physical damage to agrochemicals. To make this work traveled 6000km. for two months twice. On the second trip a journalist who is investigating the couple joined this situation.
    I also want to say that I am not the first to confirm this scenario, in some places where they had been passing foreigners and journalists a few national:
    Associated Press:
    Dario Aranda is one of the journalists and partner more committed to this issue in the country.
    When I returned from my first trip to the north and the Coast of Argentina I learned that the World Health Organization spoke saying that the use of glyphosate could be carcinogenic break chromosomes and DNA. Surely this information a long time and have not really bring anything new to corroborate the scenario that exists in populations where it is grown with GM.

    The scientist Andres Carrasco, head of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology, University of Buenos Aires, confirmed in 2009 that glyphosate was lethal and produced malformations in amphibian embryos. The arrowhead was for much of the independent scientific community in the country.

    There are now formed a network of doctors that brings people fumigated
    30,000 health professionals who work throughout the country and are daily with an alarming number of cancer cases, birth defects and spontaneous abortions in areas exposed to repeated spraying.

    This network of independent doctors acted as spokesman for the investigations carried out. Officially and news media concentrates from the country which makes more noise is silence.
    In turn, the neighborhood assemblies organized in the Cordoba neighborhood of Malvinas Argentinas became the epicenter of the global fight against Monsanto. His neighbors locked from the September 19, 2013 the construction of the storage plant world’s largest GM seeds. Since then they suffer repression from the police and gangs. The strength of the community, led by the Assembly of Malvinas Neighbors Fight for Life, it has succeeded in stopping this project.
    Health surveys conducted by the universities of Rosario and Cordoba in Monte Corn, for example, announce oncology figures three times above the national average.
    It is striking that there is inertia to rule in a scenario that I dare to call genocide by drip.
    In Argentina the spraying takes place by land, area and manual way. When done aerially, it is remarkable how health rooms are filled with people with respiratory symptoms or skin.
    The statistic of 13 million affected responds to 60% of the arable land of the country is sprayed with pesticides and all these people are exposed, including the waters of the rivers. The drift of these aero-applicators aircraft can travel 32 Km.
    approximately in Mar del Plata a laboratory, the Institute for the Analysis Fares Taie less than a month ago, he developed a method of analyzing urine by which one can determine the presence of glyphosate and the first results show that of 250 people who did 70% had residues of glyphosate.
    The problem with this and other agrochemical is staying in body fat and is cumulative.
    I have been in towns where schools for disabled increased at the same pulse of the transgenic seed.
    Saenz Pena, a town in the province of Chaco has a population of 89,800 there are about seven private schools and an enrollment of 700 focus children with different disabilities.
    If we connect this data to the new model of planting, you will understand why 10 years ago the figure registered in Sáenz Peña and in such schools was only 100. That is, 7 times lower.
    The problem is compounded by different reasons. One is that in areas like Napenay (Chaco), water is scarce, there is a common tap open 2 hours a day and is used as a container for household use Glyphosate drums.
    The Commission of Inquiry Water Pollutant Chaco province in 2010 found that in a decade, cases of cancer in children has tripled and birth defects increased 400 percent.

    In the town of San Salvador, Misiones is the largest producer of snuff in Argentina is alarming walk their streets and see disability cases in each block. The snuff need a very high dose of pesticides. Not only glyphosate is employed in crops but also 2,4D, Furadan, methyl bromide and other herbicides and highly toxic insecticides.
    These chemicals are banned in 74 countries, though in Argentina its use is massive. According to the network of doctors fumigated villages 370 million tons are used annually. Greenpeace speaks 200 million, either way the figure is overwhelming.
    I’ve heard stories from workers where tobacco companies force you to use more chemicals than necessary and then discount them 50% of the profits from production. That is a smallholder settler who cultivates two hectares of snuff, should give half their earnings to provide Philips Morris for agrochemicals. And if they refuse to buy the chemicals you can not sell their harvest. It is a circle which workers are caught.
    Finally I would like to clarify that I did the work independently. I was not hired any organization or any journalistic medium.
    The work was done during my holiday and with the money I could muster. I have not yet been able to publish abroad except in places where the trial contest. I currently supported by the Foundation Manuel Rivera Ortiz to continue testing and further research.
    I do not consider that this work can be useful to corporations, in any case, the precautionary principle to use effects of technological advances on nature should be applied.
    “The General Environmental Law (Law 25,675) has to apply the precautionary principle” where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of information or scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures of cost, to prevent environmental degradation. ”
    Here is a link to complete an audiovisual work:


  58. so on first reading it seems to be based on hearsay and personal opinions along with extrapolation of imprecise data. Hmmmmm!

    i would strip out all the data part and accusations and just be left with fantastic pictures of human tragedy…but thats just me.

  59. VIRGIL

    if coffee is all that you say it is, and i have also read a bit, then that is great news considering how much coffee i drink…..i guess coffee, no sugar drinks no McDonalds, one glass of red wine, an aspirin, and a bit of exercise works ok :)……NatGeo also did a pretty in depth piece a few years ago on coffee and basically came to the same conclusions as have you…

  60. “I would strip out all the data part and accusations and just be left with fantastic pictures of human tragedy…”


    I think it’s important that everyone there believes these health problems are the fault of agricultural chemicals. I think it’s important that, despite these widespread problems, and beliefs, the government has not done studies. I think it’s important to note what studies have been done to support, or not, the beliefs of those affected. I think it’s important to cite relevant statistics, as long as they are not cherry picked or used out of context. I think it’s fine to make a call for action based on all of the above, plus (big plus) the outstanding photography.

    I’m just saying do all that with great care to get the facts you present right and be sure that when opinions are presented, they are identified as such. If you do all that, there is a very real possibility your work could get published in places such as the New York Times and possibly do some tangible good in the world.

    If you don’t get the facts straight, no reputable publication will touch it, and, as I said above, I think there’s a very real possibility your work could harm the cause. You can see how the text has come under scrutiny here. That’s nothing compared to what would happen if agribusiness takes a whack at it.

    So go that extra mile. Get some great writing to accompany the great photographs and you will have done a great thing.

  61. Of course coffee is fine (make sure its well sourced) except in the case if you have issues with your kidneys as I stated above. Everybody’s system is different. I love coffee, and drink it maybe once a week, but I’ve suffered from pretty severe kidney yin deficiency (i.e. depleted kidney energy) and I notice when I drink it my pain gets elevated, and it can make me really unfocused and even withdrawn and lowers my energy (the opposite of what its supposed to do). If you have strong kidneys and health (as I’m pretty sure DAH has considering his robustness) then its not a problem. But for doctors to say on the radio that those with kidney disease its okay to drink coffee I see as ignorance in nutritional training. BTW, the rooibios tea I drink every morning and day has a LOT more antioxidants than coffee without all the tannins etc. Problem is many Americans now drink the equivalent of a coffee milkshake, which negates any benefits the coffee might have. And many of those good for you studies are up for debate, just as the wine ones became, but the media takes something and then rolls with it. Ok, I’ll stop now on that vein now cause its obviously turning out to be one sided and also now really off topic! ;)

    MW is right. Big agri has PR people out there to do smear campaigns, so you really need to get your facts straight before tackling them. I’d be curious as to studies done in other countries with high pesticide use and the correlation of birth defects there, if its similar at all.We really have no idea why autism rates have gone through the roof in the US, and glyphosate for sure is one place to look.

  62. MK,

    Pretty funny, have not heard of him before. Of course he plays off an extreme example (I’ve met many ‘Storms’ and its usually not pretty). Perhaps there can be a balance though?

    No, I get it, its the trendiness of it all that sticks in people’s craw, just like anything else (asparagus water anyone?) But is blanket prescribing of Oxycodone better than say legalizing marijuana just because of the ‘scientific’ studies big pharm have done to say Oxy is safe (until ones addicted of course) but others haven’t been allowed to do studies on that evil harmful natural weed? Its not science per se that’s a problem (believe me I’d love my children to grow up to be scientists or doctors) but when that science is skewed to fit the needs of those in power, and in order to portray that which can’t be quantified as quackery. Thing is, I actually understand how ayahuasca or acupuncture or homeopathy etc etc actually works – I don’t need peer reviewed studies to make it beneficial for me. But I can explain it in more concrete terms than Storm can. I don’t think waving sage over a heart attack victim is the way to go. But perhaps before the heart attack that person just changed their diet and pursued other natural remedies, there might be no need for ‘science’ to get involved at all.

    As far as life expectancy goes, the doubling is not just from medicine but also from better housing, better work place safety, better nutrition, economic factors, etc But like I’ve said, if people don’t wake up and stop regurgitating what the corporations keep throwing at them then you will see a bell curve. I walk around and see a lot of really unhealthy, unhappy looking people even here in Seattle, the epicenter of all things natural and trendy. Sure modern medicine will keep them propped up, but is it really getting at the root of the problem in the first place?

    One of my all time favorites (and there’s plenty of gems on this show mocking the trendiness)

  63. Whops not sure what happened there. Supposed to be a link to Ab Fab’s Iso tank episode.

    Anyway, think I’ll go smoke a j and go for a run now… :)

    (balance, its all about balance)

  64. Charles, what are you talking about? Depleted kidney energy? Really? There is no basis for what you are trying to say. With all due respect it sounds like you have no training in science or medicine. And ive gotten sucked into this vortex of babbling pseudoscience. Drives me crazy when everyone and anyone thinks they are experts….

    But it’s not really off topic cuz it’s the same fundamental issue with this essay…

    John, truth is that alcohol has a narrow therapeutic margin…2 drinks/day for men, 1 for women…associated with lower incidence of stroke and alzheimers. Again, not my opinion….just the facts. Cognac on me.

  65. Arturo Avellaneda

    We have a medical conference and many doctirna medical supports that are not isolated cases but to discuss a context of increasing impact where cases are random examples . That they are only small samples of a health emergency that is not declared by economic pressures.

  66. Virgil,

    So you are now disputing several thousand years of Chinese medicinal knowledge? Give me a fucking break. I’ve been battling chronic pain for over 25 years now (which I’ve had since childhood – I’m now 51) and have actually lived with acupuncturists and naturopaths as room mates. Read “The Web Has No Weaver” for a basic synopsis of Chinese healing and how the system works. Yes, it sound alike hippy shit to you, but has actual meaning and science behind it, just not you AMA bullshit line. Are you and MK doctors perchance? Am I stepping on some toes?

    Last time I saw a Western doctor for my headaches he prescribed an anti-depressant – so then I felt crazy with the exact same headache. Haven’t look backed. Turns out it was mostly a fascial problem as well as a toxic overload. Guess what? Fascia can’t be seen on x-rays or scans. Must all be in my fucking head then….

  67. My biggest problem is speaking in absolutes. Just ask my wife, or my kids, clients, etc etc. Its how I learned I guess. I’m sorry for that. Gonna leave it at that.

    The more and more I think about this set of images it probably was too soon to publish. I would like to see some more facts, doctors records would have to be reviewed, etc. The lady with the gas mask could have her MCS from any number of things, glyphosate probably not helping, but possibly a lot worse things. Same with the farmers – was it genetic, do they have the methylfolation mutation, too many antibiotics, or just plain bad health. Or was it an even more nefarious pesticide than glyphosate?

    Nonetheless a gripping set of images that call our attention to sickness and pain. I would like to see more images – the schools, nurses and doctors. More than just a set of patients. Pretty sure myself much of it is linked to pesticide use, poor handling compared to the West and banned types. God, China and India must be cesspools of this stuff. Or have they begun to crack down?

    Anyway, its nice to that we’ve doubled our average lifespan in the last 100 years. But don’t we all go around saying ‘isn’t life short?’ Take care of yourself in any way that you see fit if it makes you healthy and happy. But move on if it doesn’t and try something else. An early death or a crippled life is not a laughing matter.



  68. Pablo Ernesto Piovano

    Virgil usted nada mas cita, y al parecer con malicia, que mi trabajo se basa solo en testimonios y no completa la frase que dice que también me baso en estudios independientes.
    La comunidad científica juega un rol clave en este tema y dependemos de la ética y la dignidad de estos actores para dar con la verdad.
    Lamentablemente la mayoría los científicos trabajan para entidades dependientes del estado o para grandes corporaciones.
    Es clave entender el vinculo que existe entre el gobierno/corporaciones/ negocio agropecuario.
    También existen cantidades de estudios que vinculan directamente la siembra transgénica y el uso de agrotóxicos con malformaciones, abortos espontáneos y cáncer. Esos estudios son los que me motorizaron para hacer mi trabajo.
    Uno de ellos y tal vez el más importante lo realizo el científico Andrés Carrasco, jefe del Laboratorio de Embriología Molecular de la Universidad de Buenos Aires que confirmó en 2009 que el glifosato era letal y producía malformaciones en embriones anfibios. Por esta investigación la OMS se vio obligada a pronunciarse respecto a la peligrosidad del Glifosato.
    Aquí adjunto el estudio preliminar:
    Resulta por lo menos ligero y soberbio que desde un escritorio y a miles de Kilometros se decrete como jueces si la tragedia sanitaria que se desarrolla en los campos de Argentina es verdad o mentira.
    La situación que se vive en el territorio rural Argentino es muy grave y delicada para pronunciarse con tanto apuro. Constantemente recibo noticias de gente que muere muy joven por cáncer en las poblaciones que concentran el uso de agrotóxicos. Quienes viven y mueren en los campos necesitan con mucha más urgencia que usted o yo una respuesta.
    Estoy seguro que con el tiempo toda esta situación se va convertir en una causa popular.
    Aquí adjunto una serie de datos:

    Virgil quote you anything more, and apparently with malice, that my work is based only on testimony and do not complete the phrase that I also relied on independent studies.
    The scientific community plays a key role on this issue and we depend on ethics and dignity of these actors to give the truth.
    Unfortunately, most scientists work for subsidiaries of the state or large corporations.
    It is essential to understand the link between the government / corporate / agribusiness.
    There are also numbers of studies directly link the transgenic plants and the use of pesticides with malformations, spontaneous abortions and cancer. These studies are those that motorized me to do my job.
    One and perhaps the most important was made by the scientist Andres Carrasco, head of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology, University of Buenos Aires in 2009 he confirmed that glyphosate was lethal and produced malformations in amphibian embryos. For this investigation the WHO was forced to speak out about the dangers of glyphosate.
    Here attached the preliminary study:
    It is at least light and proud that from a desk and thousands of kilometers decreed as judges if health tragedy unfolding in the fields of Argentina is true or false.
    The situation prevailing in the Argentine rural territory is very serious and delicate to rule in such a hurry. Constantly I hear of people dying from cancer in very young populations concentrated pesticide use. Those who live and die in the fields needed much more urgently than you or me an answer.
    I’m sure that over time this situation will become a popular cause.
    Here attached a series of data:
    A report by the University of Rio Cuarto EFFECTS ALERT: http://WWW.PAGINA12.COM.AR/DIARIO/SOCIEDAD/3-256890-2014-10-06.HTML

  70. Trying to get chemicals banned is a waste of time it is far better to try and get the companies to make them safer and governments/society become more vigilant in their use.

  71. Thanks for the translation John.

    Pablo, let me just say that I do not deny the potential health hazards of agrotoxins. I try to avoid conventional produce as much as possible. I believe in your cause and your images are powerful. No chemicals is best…but safer chemicals is more practical…as Imants suggests.

    But if you are going to present dozens of portraits of people with varying diseases and ailments and suggest that they are all the result of agrotoxins then you must present some scientific support if you want to be taken seriously. An article on glyphosate and amphibian embryo malformation won’t cut it. You need human data, at least anecdotal case reports, preferably epidemiological data.

    Pablo, I am a neurologist and I read the medical literature on a daily basis, I do literature searches regularly…it is my responsibility to be as correct as possible in making a diagnosis and offering appropriate treatment…I can tell you that when I see a photo of a child with ichthyosis and I know full well it is an inherited disorder…you can’t pass it off as agrotoxin related. Unless you provide proof. I haven’t found any. And you mustnt refer to “brain paralysis” as a disease. The first step is to identify the potential diseases associated with agrotoxins with a strong literature search. Then when you find an individual you must at least be certain that the medical record supports the diagnosis. For example we know that glyphosate is associated with non Hodgkins lymphoma…a series of portraits on these individuals would have greater impact and support your cause. Farmers who are exposed to well water and agrotoxins are at greater risk for Parkinsons disease. The literature supports this. It’s not that difficult to take the right steps…Or maybe a series of images on amphibians exposed to glyphosate. I’m not joking…that would be very powerful and have full scientific support.

    Maybe many feel that agrotoxins could be the cause of all the diseases you present…and maybe future data will support that…if that’s the case then you must state it otherwise it weakens your essay…and those of us who know better will shrug it off.

    I’m not suggesting that your essay must withstand extreme scientific scrutiny. You just have to have a little solid human evidence. Your images are too powerful to waste away on pseudoscience. The cause is honorable. You need science on your side. You need to be specific. Otherwise those with proper knowledge with eviscerate this story. A bibliography with supporting research would have been a better artist statement in my mind.

    I’m only being honest and objective here Pablo. If you think I’m being harsh I would suggest you present this work to a few medical epidemiologists and get their input. Your images trigger strong emotions in me and my gut says expose those motherfuckers at Monsanto…but my brain knows the science isn’t there.

    My best to you and the future of this project.

  72. Virgil. Well said. I believe you have stated what many feel around this essay and subject. Pablo clearly has his own means of translation so I will leave it for him to do.

  73. very informative!

    I’m very thankful that Pablo has stepped in and written twice, long, thoughtful and explanatory notes. I’m also thankful for this discussion including Virgil’s insight and ideas based on his knowledge and experience as a neurologist. I’m also appreciative of reading all the arguments and discussions that have come up…

    i have very little to add (actually, in truth want to write alot at the moment, but will pass) but something that I think does NOT get discussed enough at BURN and in photogathers. I tried to chat about this over the weekend at the BOREAL bash but my health prevented me from attending the talks. the truth is that very little of the photo world is self-critical in its analysis of both the effectiveness, the verity and the responsibility that pictures have in their suggestibility and depth/lack of depth.

    As i said, this is one of the most powerful stories BURN has published and Pablo has an exceptional eye. I was upset to see that this kind of work and story wasn’t better supported in the judges eyes or through funding. However, I also really believe that with work such as this, real in-depth research and WRITING most accompany this. The reason why i really was dismayed by the Tribe essay is because the writing is so empty adn meaningless and without depth: just positing photographs (and the folk) as something that it is not: meaning. PHotograhy, at least documentary photogrpahy, NEEDS writng and needs depth. It needs time and it needs to be accompanied by a person willing to investigate and do the grunt work of, not explaining, but examining. Photographs, a priori, are too slippery and too easily manipulative and too visceral. Accompanying them must be something else, at least for documentary work…otherwise, we fall victim to again and again the superfluousness of pictures, the black magic of their surface….

    the real reason why the only kind of ‘pictures-only’ work i love any more is personal ruminative essays is just for that fact: pictures deceive or they ensorcell and because of that we must be cautious and wary of photography/photographs…..

    Pablo story deserves THAT KIND of accompanyment. that kind of partnership. he needs also facts, he needs investigation and he needs a writer too. for this kind of work, pictures are not enough….powerful and important as they are….

    otherwise we can lost in the morass of surface, of easily suggestable and manipulative stories…and we see that daily….

    i wish Pablo all the best…and I really hope this work is deepened, the lives and the facts of the circumstances are studied and that all this comes out in powerful, factual, investigative ways…

    otherwise, we’re left with photographic dross…..

    and the lives of the people forgotten once again….


  74. VIRGIL

    thank you…well said…

    one of the problems facing photographers who are 100% well meaning is in fact getting the facts right in the first place…i’m not talking about lazy photographers, i am talking about photographers who do go the extra mile to get scientific “facts” to back up their stories…

    i’ve been to a few medical and scientific gatherings and also in hospital situations involving patient diagnosis….and one of the things that impressed me most was that doctors and scientists do not seem to agree with each other any more on diagnosis and/or prognosis than do photographers on the strength of an essay ….is that your experience?

    at NatGeo , where the editors spend weeks fact checking, guess what? after a point one realizes there are no “facts”…almost everything including “science” is subjective….we know that about art and politics, but we tend to believe our family doctor….and we also tend to believe whatever scientist we are talking to…at what point is a photographer like Pablo to be held responsible?

    you and i both agree that coffee is relatively safe and NatGeo thinks coffee is beneficial, yet i am sure we can find hundreds of doctors and scientists who would say otherwise…milk has gone from good to bad and back to good and back to bad again 5 times in my lifetime…i don’t know whether to drink a glass of milk at this point or not…

    i’m not defending Pablo because i just do not have his fact gathering details, yet i am trying to find the line photographers doing this type of subject can walk and should walk….

    many thanks for being so helpful in this terrific discussion…one of the best on Burn…

    Cheers, David

  75. DAVID

    Science is not subjective. Not in any real sense of that word. Science and scientists will change their views when presented with new and better evidence. And that’s a good thing. But it’s nothing like the pure subjectivity of, say, art.

    Regarding this essay, I felt Pablo (and many commenters) relied too heavily and easily on making Monsanto and Gyphosate as prime culprits. Monsanto certainly has a history that makes all the opprobrium it receives understandable. But today the consensus in the scientific community is glyphosate, used properly, does not in fact will not cause all the maladies presented in Pablo’s essay. That someone somewhere can find a scientist with dissenting voice doesn’t make it a throw up your hands and say “well how can we ever know?” situation.

    The reason this trouble me is that what if it isn’t glyphosate? What if the urge to attack Monsanto is so great we end up missing the actual culprits? I think Pablo could have presented this less dogmatically, maybe with a little less assuredness and still had a powerful story to tell.

    Maybe he still can.

  76. DAVID:

    Amigo, under the name of the essay it says:

    ‘EPF 2015 FINALIST’….

    that is why i assume that….anyway, as I said, an extraordinary essay…and I have really enjoyed the discussion and stand by what i wrote: work of this powerful visual nature also needs an accompanying text with detail/study/fact that links the people in the story with the nature of the story…not just pictures…in this case, not enough..and have really enjoyed reading discussion…


  77. David, for sure there will always be controversy in science and medicine. But I disagree that science is based on subjectivity. It is based on observation and supported by research and data based ultimately on the scientific method. Although medicine is based on science the practice of medicine has a subjective component as well, hence more room for controversy. Much of the controversy you hear about in the media is a result of non experts babbling on. For example…vaccinations. People feel an emotional connection to a cause and ignore the truth, the science.
    I will tell you that in my field there is strong consensus on most diseases and treatments with a some latitude. Even when we treat with trial and error it is based on some degree of science. Rarely is there absolute contradiction. Certainly not to the degree that we may see in the subjective world of art.

    Pablo is inviting science, medicine and epidemiology into his photo essay. A tough hill to climb. And his cause is somewhat specific. So he must be even more specific if he wants his powerful images to carry the weight. A simple Medline search will give him most of the data. If he had done that he would’ve known that icthyosis is an inherited disorder not caused by toxins. Or that there is no such disease as brain paralysis. If he disagrees with the research then he must dig deeper and support his argument. Who knows, he might uncover an area of scientific controversy. That might drive this essay to another level. But he went down this road so he must develop it further. It could be much easier than it sounds…if he chooses glyphosate there is plenty of data of its association with lymphoma. At least some. But don’t show me a photo of epilepsy. Show me lymphoma.

    Sure, doctors and scientist argue…thank god for that. But they have a starting point…an understanding of science and medicine. Analogous to a discussion on photos…those who know the history of photography will always have better support. But I would argue that it is more necessary to have an understanding of science if one gets involved with an essay such as Pablo’s.

    Regarding coffee, my friend, 2 days ago another article appeared in the journal of oncology that those who consume caffeinated coffee have less recurrence of colon cancer and less mortality. So when I speak of coffee I am basing it on legitimate research. It’s not just my opinion. But I admit…no one gonna take my coffee from me:) There was a nice article in the nyt a while back with a nice bibliography. I’ll look for it and post it.

    One final thought…most of us feel we can find answers at the touch of a finger…Google knowledge. But most of us don’t know what knowledge to trust. Not all knowledge is equal. I see this every day in my practice. Hundreds of examples that would terrify you. I guess I would encourage Pablo to dig dig dig. It may take him in a different direction but for sure it will be worth it.

  78. Reporting science is really hard if you want to do it well, There are plenty of scientists who disagree with each other. If you want to do it well you need to understand the data. I’m sure people who are paid by a big chemical company can look at something and find no harmful effects, or the company will pick a cancer that they know is NOT caused by the chemical and look into that so there will be negative result.

    I know of projects that the government does not want results for so that when someone asks they can say we are looking into it.

    The man who put lead in petrol spun that for years.

    I honestly don’t think as a species we are influenced by science. I work with scientists who can’t understand why the Government ignores science and I work with normal folk who read that coffee is good and bad for you and think that scientists don’t know what they are doing and stop listening.


    my error…on my computer it is soooo faint i literally cannot see it…my screen is screwed and i need a new one soonest….and i did not remember this essay was a finalist….sorry…

  80. VIRGIL

    many thanks ….i hope to hell i did not say that i thought science was BASED on subjectivity…what i meant to say was that some interpretations of FACTS relating to a diagnosis for example seemed to me the layman photog listening to a group of doctors deciding what to do with a patient appeared to me to be subjective….the science was absolute….what to do about it was not…i.e treatment….surgery, no surgery….surgeon says yes we must cut now, neurologist says no let’s wait and try X, or something to that effect….in other words, the ACTION on the patient could vary depending on OPINION even though everyone in the room is a scientist by definition….but yes yes that is a world apart from an artistic evaluation of work…..

    bringing this back to Pablo i can see the problem….he might have listened to the wrong person, or was careless in his research…in this case he needed an expert with him at all times……there are no excuses for this type of work for sure….had he been shooting for a major magazine, most have a team of fact checkers who carefully research…at NatGeo for sure they would have caught this one…they sextuple check everything..and then check it again…and even then sometimes there are errors….

    again, many thanks for clarifying and enlightening…

    i make the strongest cup of coffee known to man (subjective) but i hope you join me sometime on my front porch to have a cup….

    cheers, david

  81. DAVID :)

    all good…it has been one of the best BURN essays in a long time and one of the best and most interesting and enlightening discussions….

    and yes, that cup of coffee on your porch :)


  82. David, I understand now. Can be very confusing to patients. I don’t feel that medical doctors are scientists. Very few are. Ultimately one chooses medicine or science. I tried for a while and chose medicine. Clinical science is based on population studies. Medicine is based on a single individual which takes into account so much more…religion, personality, comorbitites, desires…and medical opinion therefore involves some subjectivity. Impossible to be 100% objective for sure.

    Hharry, well…our species is dependent on science. Science exists. It is not man made. Man attempts to understand science. Just because scientists argue does not render it meaningless. When we speak in generalities we may as well be arguing about religion. We can only have an informed discussion if we speak specifically. As in this essay. Or as you imply we can throw away science and believe what we want to believe. Or rather…ignore what may be known. Another level of discussion would be which science is closer to the truth. But…I think we’ve beat a dead horse by now…

  83. “Coffee is good for you…” and yes at one time people thought that drinking radium was good for you too (thanks to those scientists, the Curies). :) Lets face it, its all a moving target. I think we’re still at pretty early days when it comes to exact effects of what we put into our bodies, consciously or otherwise. It just hasn’t been that big of a priority for the Western medical community as I see it, and obfuscation by corporations that make the substances.

    BTW had a few cups this weekend (always do when I visit my parents) and haven’t keeled over – yet. ;) Yeah, the bigger issue is the enormous amount of milk and sugar many put into their coffee in this country, and how that coffee was grown and processed in the first place. And sensitivity to it of course (some are, some aren’t).

    I was going to link to that Guardian pice but I see MW beat me to it.

  84. “Coffee is good for you…” It sure is I am having a cup now and it makes me happy, love the taste I doubt if radium would make me feel the same way.

  85. I see the discussion has turned to coffee. I was raised to believe coffee was the Devil’s brew, right behind alcohol, and a sure ticket to the Telestial Kingdom, kind of like hell. Then one Halloween when I was new to Alaska I got off a plane that had managed to land on St. Lawrence Island in a straight down the runway 50 mph wind. That wind tore the glove off my right hand and I helplessly watched it disappear on a course toward Russia, still called the Soviet Union, 40 miles away. A fellow came up and offered me a ride on his three-wheeler into the village so I hoped on. I was frozen when we arrived at his house and he offered me coffee. I drank and was glad for it. Years later, I was in a tiny, open, aluminum boat working its way at two or three miles an hour through an ice-clogged lead in the Chukchi Sea on what would prove to be a frigid, nine hour, slog. An Iñupiaq man told me, “the way to keep warm out here is to drink lots of coffee and piss often.” So that’s what I did. It was kind of hard to piss from that tiny little boat, but I managed. I’ve been a dedicated coffee drinker since and I cherish the drink. I may be hell-bound but I plan to enter smiling, a cup of coffee in my hand.

  86. When science is presented with new information it changes its course. This is a good thing. It does not, however, mean that we can’t know anything. It doesn’t mean everything’s a moving target. In 2015 we know more about the human body than ever before thanks to modern medicine and science… and with no thanks to some passé ancient Chinese hooey.

    Now pass me the radium!

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