Kristin Schafer

    Mother takes on Monsanto, wins global prize

    Posted April 16th, 2012 by

    Hats off to this mother of three who got fed up and took charge. Thirteen years ago, Sofía Gatica’s newborn died of kidney failure after being exposed to pesticides in the womb. After the despair came anger, then a fierce determination to protect the children in her community and beyond.

    Today, she’s one of six grassroots leaders from around the world receiving the Goldman Environmental Prize, in recognition of her courageous — and successful — efforts.

    We at Pesticide Action Network are deeply honored to host Sofía as she travels to San Francisco for tonight’s ceremony and celebration. And personally, I look forward to meeting a mom with the chutzpa to take on Monsanto to protect her children.

    Pesticides drift from GE soy fields

    Sofía lives in Ituzaingó Annex, a working-class neighborhood of 6,000 bordering commercial soy farms in the province of Córdoba in Argentina.Sofia Gatica, 2012 Goldman Award

    Argentina is the third largest exporter of soybeans in the world. It is also the third largest producer of genetically engineered (GE) crops worldwide, following closely behind the U.S. and neighboring Brazil. The explosion of GE soy production in Argentina has brought with it dramatic increases in pesticide use, and specifically aerial spraying of Monsanto’s weedkiller, RoundUp. Spraying of the antiquated insecticide endosulfan was also common until this year. Its use is now banned in Argentina as it moves toward a global phaseout under the Stockholm treaty.

    RoundUp, long touted by Monsanto as all but harmless, has recently been linked to increased risk of birth defects when mothers are exposed during pregnancy. Endosulfan has also been linked to health harms in children, including birth defects, reproductive harm and autism.

    Local mothers take charge

    Here’s where Sofía’s story becomes truly inspirational.

    After she lost her newborn, she realized that such losses were all too common in her small community. Building on Argentina’s powerful history of movements led by mothers, Sofía worked with other concerned moms to go door to door collecting stories about health problems in each family — essentially conducting the community’s first-ever epidemiological study.

    “The Mothers of Ituzaingó” discovered the community’s cancer rate to be 41 times the national average. Rates of neurological problems, respiratory diseases and infant mortality were also astonishingly high.

    The group then launched a “Stop the Spraying!” campaign, leading demonstrations and publishing materials warning the community about the dangers of pesticides.

    Their efforts bore fruit. In 2008, Argentina’s president ordered an investigation of the health impacts of pesticides in Ituzaingó Annex; the resulting official study corroborated the informal door-to-door research. Sofía and the Mothers of Ituzaingó then won a municipal “buffer zone” ordinance, prohibiting aerial spraying less than 2,500 meters from homes.

    Honoring leadership & courage

    Each year since 1989, the Goldman Prize has honored grassroots leaders across the globe, unsung heroes who are campaigning for environmental justice and sustainability in their local communities. This global recognition of Sofia’s work couldn’t be more deserved.

    Sofia Gatica, 2012 Goldman AwardDespite few resources and very real threats — including being held at gunpoint in her own home — Sofía led the Mothers of Ituzaingó to concrete victory: on-the-ground protections for the children in their community. The group also raised the profile of the broader issue of the health harms of pesticides to the national level, making room for a push for safer and more sustainable approaches to agriculture.

    Sofía is now working with mothers in other Argentine communities, looking for ways to expand protections to families across the country. We at PAN salute her commitment, dedication and creativity, and congratulate her for the well deserved international recognition of today’s Goldman Prize.

    This blog was also posted on GroundTruth.

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    Posted Under: H: Environmental Health


    July 18, 2012 at 10:47 pm by Lexii

    I honestly dont think if u had them u will ever be coteplmely rid of them, it is so frustrating. Sorry to say this but it seeems that way, but i will tell your a good way to keep the suckers away is to buy a really good vaccumn cleaner and vaccumn twice a method i have found against these f**kers yet. Everyone in the family had them and I was one of the very few that didnt get infested and I believe the only one that did not have to get an exterminator due to my cleanliness OCD. lol


    June 21, 2012 at 1:40 pm by Anita

    The long history of mothers speaking out and making a difference in Argentina is so powerful. We can all learn from their example of organizing and persistence.


    May 4, 2012 at 6:08 pm by kellie

    PETITION BUTTONS-Abolish Factories That Infect Our World And All Life On It With Disease at

    Share it forward to Abolish or wear a button to inspire others. If enough speak out for life itself like the foods they have to take off the shelves because they infect life, the factories will also be abolished from the world because they infect life and the world as a whole

    Share it forward for the world and all life on it.

    follow me us all


    May 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm by Priscilla King

    Good for Sofia! Thanks for sharing. Since IRT has shared this story I assume it’s OK for me to link to it too?


    April 22, 2012 at 5:41 am by purplefireweed

    wonderful work. yay moms.
    but all they got was a buffer zone?
    I thought the campaign was to STOP the spraying…


    April 18, 2012 at 8:32 pm by Elaina Skyewing

    I just wanted to say thank you so much for this story it really touches my heart their are others out there fighting for our food…..and for the rights of everyone in having a healthy body/healthy planet.

    We at Solarise living food ministries ( Are the first EVER living food church of it’s kind…where we believe that spirit is in food (all food) but more so in living food and our religion is against ALL GMO’s. Our church has just opened and we are making living juices and smoothies by donation only…and most of the proceeds from the donations are going to get a lawyer to go up against Monsanto. Please visit us on Facebook: Solarise Living Food Ministries and please like us!!!;) Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions!!!;) I am also on Facebook: Elaina Skyewing Also see me on youtube: Liquidbutterflye I also have another website: Blessings, Rev. Elaina Skyewing



    1. Mother Takes on Monsanto, Wins Global Prize
    2. Mother Who Took on Monsanto, Wins Global Prize | Wake Up World
    3. Celebrating Mother’s Day, Networked Moms & Powerful Writing « MomsRising Blog
    4. Moms to White House: Investigate Monsanto! « MomsRising Blog

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