Sunday, June 1, 2014

Brief Letter to the NY Times on Nicaraguan Sugar Workers

Heather Murphy published an article on Friday, May 9, 2014 in the New York Times with the title, “Nicaragua Sugar Workers Fall To Illness That Baffles Experts.”

That same day, I wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times in response, stating the following:

Heather Murphy cites the devastation of male Nicaraguan sugar cane workers by CKD but does little more than several articles on this (occupational) disease from the past two years. In her article, these mass deaths of agricultural workers remain an unsolved “mystery.”

I at least expected some mention of the most obvious culprit, Monsanto and its weedkiller, glyphosate. Sri Lanka already banned it in the wake of similar CKD-caused deaths of its rice-paddy workers.

Monsanto has operated herbicide plants in Nicaragua since 1967, it has invested heavily in Central American sugar cane production (modified for glyphosate) since 2007, and--on its own site (11/03/08)--brags about sugarcane “innovations...through breeding and biotechnology.”

The closest Murphy comes to the likely culprit is in the third of her list of (unequal) causations: “heat stress, chronic dehydration, toxic chemicals, painkillers, sugar consumption and even volcanic ash.”

Was reference to Monsanto and glyphosate edited out of this article?

I suspect something like this took place in the Times' editing room. After all, Monsanto has its fingers in every "pie" around the globe, and as one recent article notes in its title, “Monsanto's propaganda flaks pen pieces for New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Monsanto is like Aesop's "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." The more one encounters it, the more impossible it becomes to believe a word it says.

Killing Fields, Khalil Bendib, June 2012

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