Cearense Forum for Life in the Semiarid issues note in support of the Zé Maria do Tomé Law

The organizations that make up the Cearense Forum for Life in the Semiarid, committed to the defense of Life through Agroecology, Coexistence with the Semiarid and Rural Education, manifested themselves in defense of the Zé Maria do Tomé Law, which defends the end of the use of pesticides and a commitment to life.

Read the full note below:

Note from the Cearense Forum for Life in the Semi-Arid (Brazilian Semi-Arid Articulation / ASA Ceará) in support of the Zé Maria do Tomé Law

Fortaleza - CE, August 10, 2021

Among the many threats that directly impact the lives of rural people is the aerial spraying of pesticides, responsible for dumping large amounts of poison on agribusiness crops and which also contaminate the soil and water bodies, as well as people who are in the way of toxic rain, causing serious health problems. All of Brazil suffers from the harm caused by aerial spraying, except for a single state, Ceará, due to the approval of Law 16.820 of 2019, which prohibits the dumping of pesticides by aircraft in Ceará's territory. This is a big and important step towards the production of territories free from poison and with more dignity in the countryside. Given its great importance, it is a law that needs to be defended and an example to be followed by all other states in the country.

The approval of Law 16.820/19, called the Zé Maria do Tomé Law, represented a very important achievement for everyone who suffered daily from the impacts of aerial spraying of pesticides in their communities. In Chapada do Apodi, in the east of Ceará, this was a constant reality and it took away the sleep and health of the residents, since the practice of dumping pesticides by aircraft on banana plantations was common and sometimes also bathed the backyards, the water reservoirs and the houses of the communities. Banana agribusiness companies had aerial spraying as the most viable way to purge poison from their monocultures, exposing the environment, workers and residents to the risks of contamination. It is in this context that the figure of Zé Maria do Tomé emerges, a peasant who turned against the practice of aerial spraying and mobilized communities, entities, social movements and universities in the fight against the use of pesticides. Because of this, Zé Maria was murdered, revealing the greed of the powerful agribusiness in his death project for Chapada do Apodi.

Gathered in the 21st of April Movement (M21), these communities, entities, social movements and universities, supported by numerous scientific researches that attested the damage to people's health and the environment as a result of pesticide contamination, continued Zé Maria do's struggle. Tomé and obtained, through state deputy Renato Roseno (from Psol), the approval of Law 16.820/19. This Law prohibits the aerial spraying of pesticides throughout the state of Ceará and was a pioneer in Brazil, representing a great hope of poison-free territories, without the risk of people being literally bathed in pesticides and having their food and drinking water contaminated. The Law is a guarantee of a minimum of dignity for the peasant populations that see themselves threatened by the invasion of agribusiness in their territories, with the expansion of large estates, monocultures and the large-scale use of pesticides. It is a law that ensures the maintenance of life in these territories.

Despite the great importance of the Zé Maria do Tomé Law, much more needs to be done. Banning the aerial spraying of pesticides alone is not enough to prevent the increase in the consumption of poison in agricultural crops. There must be public policies and specific legislation that progressively reduce the use of pesticides, while encouraging and enhancing the production of organic and agroecological foods. We cannot rest while the use of poison in the plantations is allowed, since there will be no health for the field workers, community residents and consumers of contaminated food.

The organizations that make up the Cearense Forum for Life in the Semi-Arid, committed to the defense of Life through Agroecology, Coexistence with the Semi-Arid and Rural Education, fully manifest themselves in defense of the Zé Maria do Tomé Law. Defend the end of use of pesticides is, above all, a commitment to life! So, long live the Zé Maria do Tomé Law and the fight against pesticides!

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