Genetically modified soybeans, grown on an industrial scale, have made Paraguay the world’s sixth-largest producer of the crop — and the plantation owners rich.
Yet these soybean plantations gobble up land and guzzle water, and require massive use of agricultural chemicals, bringing about what the United Nations now says is a human-rights crisis for small-scale rural farmers who previously thrived in soy-growing regions.
These small farmers now eke out a living on the edges of toxic soybean fields, where the use of agricultural chemicals is so indiscriminate that poisoning and sickness is common, and at least one person has died.
The crisis is so bad that farmers are fleeing their homelands by the hundreds of thousands, and migrating to cities, such as Paraguay’s capital of Asunción.
The U.N. High Commission on Human Rights has called on the Paraguayan government to take a range of measures to protect its citizens — and punish the companies responsible for indiscriminate use of agricultural chemicals where people live.
Sources: El País (Spain), Parts Unknown