Thursday, May 25, 2006

Carlitos’ birth defects
may have been caused by pesticides

North Carolina officials say they don't have enough evidence to prove the deformed children of three farmworkers were poisoned with pesticides at work.

But in the case of Carlitos Candelaria, the baby born without arms and legs to a poor fieldworker couple in Immokalee, the report found "a plausible association between this mother's possible occupational pesticide exposures in North Carolina and the limb defects seen in her child."

Health officials called for more protection of workers despite gaps in the link between the pesticides and children.

Carlitos’ mother and two other workers at Florida-based Ag-Mart gave birth to deformed babies between December 2004 and February 2005. All three mothers worked in Ag-Mart's tomato farms while pregnant and in conditions state officials say violated pesticide use laws.

Ag-Mart officials say the state has warped its data. "We know for certain that such violations never took place as alleged,” said company president Don Long. “We do, however, agree wholeheartedly with the (North Carolina health department's) seven recommendations" for reform. "This is the kind of progressive action on behalf of workers and their safety with which we'd be happy to cooperate."

Andrew Yaffa, the attorney representing Carlitos, said the report is a sign that something is wrong with pesticide practices and enforcement. "If you read between the lines of this report," he said, "it screams there is a link between pesticides and birth defects."

Read the Palm Beach Post story here. And see previous posts about Carlitos here, here and here.


At 4:49 AM, Blogger Dr. S. Banerji said...

I wonder why the deformities were not detected by ultrasound during pregnancy. Genetic tests on the reproductive cells of both parents should be corelated with tissue residues of pesticides to which they were exposed.

At 5:44 PM, Blogger Jacqueline Dowd said...

Apparently, the deformitites were detected.

"When I was carrying him," his mother is quoted as saying, "the doctors, at about 4 months, told me they did not see a leg. Later, they told me they didn't see anything — no arms, no legs, nothing.

"But I did not understand, really, until Carlitos was born. I did not believe it."

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