Kidneys

I posted several months ago about the terrible contamination coming from sugar cane cultivation in the area where I’m living, and the dramatic effects these toxic agrochemicals have on people’s health and livelihood.  In the past couple of weeks, one of the major newspapers has published a series of stories about the truly shocking scope of kidney failure in this country and its ties to toxic agrochemicals.

Have you ever had a moment where you find out about something really terrible that is being done and that could be stopped, but then you — and everybody else around you — doesn’t do anything about it?  Well, it’s like that.

Here’s some of the stats just to make your jaw drop:

Kidney disease is the number one cause of death in El Salvador’s hospitals.

50 new diagnoses daily of renal failure (kidney disease)

18% of workers in the Bajo Lempa region (where I live) have chronic kidney disease

Alfredo Cristiani, president of the right wing political party ARENA, is one of El Salvador’s main pesticide importers.

The “Dirty Dozen” refers to twelve toxic agrochemicals banned from use in most countries, and which are used without any kind of control in El Salvador.  Many of these chemicals are produced by USA companies (where they are prohibited) and exported to El Salvador

And the best part? Despite strong correlational evidence, authorities continue to say that we just don’t have enough proof that kidney disease is caused by exposure to these chemicals.  Because in the real world laboratory you can’t have a true control group, and you can’t isolate contributing factors, and so nobody will probably ever be able to say “We have done our research, and we have determined that these thousands of people’s kidney disease was caused by exposure to this chemical,” because sometimes kidney disease is caused by diet or genetic predisposition or by other freak accidents.

It’s the same story all over the world in all manner of circumstances: we can’t prove that it was Syria’s government that killed hundreds of civilians with chemicals; we can’t prove that the earthquakes in Texas and Arkansas and other states are direct results of fracking for natural gas; we can’t prove that hundreds of people with leukemia were made sick by toxic chemicals used in the extraction process by Exxon…

But people are sick and lives are lost and the earth we depend on is being mindlessly abused, and for lack of “definitive proof” we simply watch it happen. Because in the end, isn’t there always somebody who is benefiting from these abuses?

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