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High Rates of Cancer in Entre Rios, Argentina Town Raise Concerns about Pesticides

May 1, 2015

The high rate of cancer in a town in the Entre Rios province of Argentina raises concerns about the health effects of pesticides used nearby. Buenos Aires Herald reports that the town has gathered information showing that cancer attributes to nearly half of all deaths. In comparison, the national average is 18 percent. The town, San Salvador, is calling for action in light of this evidence.

Between 2010 and 2013, 43.3 percent of all deaths in San Salvador were due to some form of cancer, according to statistics gathered by local residents. This high percentage lead many to believe that pesticides, which are heavily used in rice and soy bean plots nearby, are the problem.

Andrew Kloster, a local resident, said "There’s something going on here. Why are medical tests being conducted? Because until now there was no scientific backing for this struggle of independent neighbors," according to Buenos Aires Herald. "We are in a hole, with the rice industries in the city and surrounded by countryside. This is inevitable because if the pesticides are so harmful, how are you not going to get hurt?" After a friend died suddenly from a tumor, Kloster became involved with community group "Todos por Todos".

After the group raised awareness, a joint team of specialists from the Rosario and La Plata universities were sent to monitor the area. The researchers have started taking a range of environmental samples to determine whether the local agricultural industry is related to high rates of cancer.

Damian Vercenassi is the director of the epidemiological study group. He confirmed that cancer was the primary cause of death among surveyed residents, stating that other conditions included "increased endocrine, respiratory and allergic diseases."

San Salvador is commonly referred to as the "Rice Capital" of Argentina. For many years, it has been the center of agricultural product in Entre Rios. The town has increased soy bean production in recent years. The crop is grown with potentially harmful pesticides, such as glyphosate.

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