Women farmers in Brazil protest chemicals

March. 3, 2011 at 9:28 PM

RIO DE JANEIRO, March 3 (UPI) — Thousands of women farmers in Brazil protested the use of toxic weed killers and pesticides on crops, saying they favor farming practices that protect health.

Members of the international peasant movement Via Campesina, together with other organizations working for the rights of women and rural populations, demonstrated in six Brazilian states, Inter Press Service reported Thursday.

The protests were held in the states of Bahia, Pernambuco, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul and Sao Paulo as part of actions leading up to International Women’s Day March 8.

Amanda Matheus of the Landless Rural Workers Movement told IPS the use of agrochemicals harmful to the environment is based on an agricultural production model biased towards agribusiness or large-scale export-oriented agricultural production.

The model “is driven by an alliance between large landowners and transnational corporations that gain control of the land and invest in monoculture plantations, such as sugarcane and eucalyptus,” she said.

The goal of the demonstrations, Matheus said, is to change the agricultural production model to one based on “agroecology, biodiversity, family agriculture organized in cooperatives, and the production of healthy food.”

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