Saturday, March 04, 2006

A boy without arms and legs
-- are pesticides to blame?

Carlitos sits in a specially designed device that allows him to be upright. The device was provided by Shriners Hospital for Children.

"I'm thinking he will be a painter," his mother says. "He can hold the brushes in his mouth."
She pauses.
"Of course, he will probably have his own ideas. Because he's a very bright boy."

Photo from the Palm Beach Post.

Little Carlitos lights up a room. His dark eyes shine. He giggles.
He seems happy.

But Carlitos will never be able to tie his shoelaces or toss a football. That's because he's missing every limb -- the result of his mother's exposure to several dangerous pesticides during her pregnancy, the family claims.

His parents, migrant workers Francisca Herrera, 19, and Abraham Candelario, 21, have filed a lawsuit alleging that Plant City produce giant Ag-Mart Produce negligently used at least six types of powerful pesticides that caused Carlitos’ birth defects.

Herrera picked tomatoes during her pregnancy. When she wasn't in the fields, she washed the clothes her husband wore while he worked in the fields.

When she was six-months pregnant, a doctor told her that her child might have problems. "But not like this," she said. "I didn't know how to feed him, how to bathe him. I am scared for him all the time."

Last year, North Carolina and Florida issued Ag-Mart nearly 400 citations and fined the company about $300,000 for misusing pesticides between 1999 and 2003.

Ag-Mart owner Don Long has denied wrongdoing and said his company has reduced the number of pesticides it uses. "We are deeply saddened by what Carlitos and his family have endured over the past year; it's a heartbreaking experience for any family," he said.

Read the Palm Beach Post story here.


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