The story begins in a small farming community just outside the city of Cordoba, where large plantations of genetically modified soybeans border multiple residential communities. For the past 20-or-so years, children living in these areas have been coming down with serious health conditions, including major birth defects and cancer. These conditions have been steadily rising since the advent of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the area, yet they were largely nonexistent prior to this time.
"Children were being born with deformities," says Sofia Gatica, a local mother of three whose oldest son became a victim of pesticide poisoning back in the mid-90s, about the consequences of GMOs. "Little babies were being born with six fingers, without a jawbone, missing a skull bone, with kidney deformities, without an anus -- and a lot of mothers and fathers were developing cancer."
Sofia’s son did not end up with anything this severe, but he was temporarily paralyzed and had to receive care at a local hospital. Doctors were initially unsure as to what the boy actually had, but Sofia was convinced that the GMOs near here home were to blame. After all, Monsanto operated a soy plantation just 50 meters away from her family’s property, where airplanes would routinely spray toxic glyphosate, also known as Roundup, over the fields.
Sofia’s son eventually recovered, but the family’s fourth child was not so lucky. According to Germany’s Deutsche Welle, the little girl died just three days after being born due to kidney failure. This was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back for Sofia, who immediately began talking with her neighbors about the situation. She came to learn that many children in the area had similar conditions, and the common link was the Monsanto fields out behind their homes.
"The mothers started to come help me, to tell me, ‘Look, I have another sick person,’" explains Sofia about the coalition of supporters she was quickly able to form. "They came to me by themselves and decided to join the struggle."