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Don Panos' pestice contamination, Presidencia Roca, Argentina

Local and indigenous communities suffer from acute poisonings and other health impacts due to the massive use of toxic pesticides.


Between the 20th and the 24th of October 2021 the city of Presidencia Roca, in the Argentinean Chaco, was hit by the aerial drift of pesticides used by the “Don Panos” plant, a cotton establishment which is located about sixteen kilometres from the city. The company that manages the plant, "Marfra SA" is owned by "Unitec Agro", the large holding company owned by Eduardo Eurnekián, a billionaire entrepreneur as well as the fifth richest person in Argentina [1]. Don Panos' property extends for about 50000 hectares between the provinces of Chaco and Formosa,  within which there are still wooded areas. The company has, over the last year, begun to initiate a process of expansion and intensification of cotton production, resulting in a massive use of pesticides and illegal deforestation [2]. Nevertheless, Don Panos is a hegemonic presence on the territory since 1995, when the plant was established. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Don Panos' pestice contamination, Presidencia Roca, Argentina
State or province:Chaco
Location of conflict:Presidencia Roca
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Deforestation
Specific commodities:Cotton
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Don Panos has a production level of 2,600 hectares of cotton, and seeks to reach 8,000 hectares between cotton and soy [6].

Project area:55000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project40,000,000 [7]
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:700-1000
Start of the conflict:2021
Company names or state enterprises:Marfra SA from Argentina
Unitec Agro SA from Argentina
Relevant government actors:Secretaría de Desarollo Territorial y Ambiental
Brigada Operativa Ambiental (BOA)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Red de Salud Popular Ramón Carrillo
Fundación Gran Chaco
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local government/political parties
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
qom communities
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsThe contamination of the plants prevents the local qom people from using them in tradicional botanical medicine, thus aggravating the health conditions.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Court decision (undecided)
New legislation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Proposal and development of alternatives:The mobilization mainly implements judicial strategies, but the citizens are starting to organize a resistance trough assemblies.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The plant continues to operate without respecting the limits imposed by law in 2012, even with precautionary measures in place. An expansion of the same is also foreseen [6].
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Ley 6409 – Ordenamiento Territorial de los Bosques Nativos
[click to view]

Ley de Biocidas - 2026-R
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Forbes - Eduardo Eurnekian
[click to view]

[2] Fumigaciones ilegales en Chaco: “Si este conflicto hubiese ocurrido en CABA la respuesta hubiera sido otra”, Camilla Parodi, 2021
[click to view]

[3] La poderosa empresa detrás de la lluvia de agrotóxicos en Chaco, Julián Pilatti, 2021
[click to view]

[4] Observatorio de conflictos sociales NEA
[click to view]

[5] Red de Salud Popular Ramón Carrillo
[click to view]

[6] Gobierno del Chaco
[click to view]

[7] Gaceta Mercantil, 2012
[click to view]

[8] Viaje a los pueblos fumigados, Pino Solanas, 2018
[click to view]

[9] En Chaco apuntan a un establecimiento agrícola de envenenar a un pueblo con agrotóxicos
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Chiara Solinas, [email protected]
Last update30/06/2022
Conflict ID:5886
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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