Science Brief | “Genetically Modified Children”

In this horrifying documentary, writer and director Juliette Igier travels around Argentina meeting families in agricultural communities whose lives have been upended by a sudden surge in birth defects and cancers among the children.

Tobacco farmers face an impossible choice –– be unable to sell their tobacco and support their disabled children or use the GMO crops and chemical cocktails those crops require.

The current jump in birth defects, up 400 percent in one year according to the documentary, illustrates the epigenetic impact these chemicals have been shown to have. Chemical exposures of the grandparents and the parents are impacting the next generation.

Here are some of the facts presented in this film:

  • In 1996, the Argentinian government authorized the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) based on studies done by chemical giant Monsanto.
  • The World Health Organization has categorized Roundup as “probably carcinogenic.” (Source: World Health Organization, 2015)
  • In the town of Cordoba, Argentina, a hub of transgenic soybean, anti-Monsanto graffiti covers the streets, and a farmer was sentenced to prison in 2012 for aerial spraying glyphosate within 2,500 meters of a populated area. In the district, there were 16 cases of leukemia out of only 5,000 residents. (National average is 1 or 2 cases per 100,000 and the U.S. rate of leukemia is 6.7 per 100,000 men and women per year.)
  • The Mothers of Ituzaingo had blood tests done in Buenos Aires on their children. Three out of four had agrochemicals in their blood: pesticides, chromium, lead and arsenic.
  • The Ituzaingo, Argentinian government advised families that they would only improve the water, if the families signed away their right to sue for the previously polluted water.
  • Today, every year, more than 300 million liters (80 million gallons) of glyphosate are used on Argentinian soil. (Source: Linda Pressly, BBC, 2014)
  • Tobacco farmers in Argentina are not given information about risks and safe handling of the agrochemicals they are required to use on their tobacco.
  • Tobacco farmers cannot stop growing Tobacco, as their social security is tied to their job, and they would be unable to provide care for their disabled children if they ceased growing the tobacco and spraying Roundup.
  • To get their tobacco certified by tobacco giant Philip Morris, the farmers must purchase and use the GMO products and herbicides like Roundup, or else their crops will not meet the standard.
  • According to the World Health Organization, three million people are poisoned annually worldwide by pesticides. (Source: Claire Meeghan, The Guardian, 2013)
  • Agrochemicals are worth $40 billion a year to chemical and agricultural companies like Monsanto. (Estimates are the agrochemical market worth will reach $308.92 billion by 2025) (Source: Grand View Research, 2017)

The documentary runs 55 minutes and can be ordered through Amazon or the Cinema Libre Studio website: cinemalibrestudio.com.

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