lividsnails: March 2008 Archives
Corporate responsibility is not just another liberal
platitude for Carlos (Carlitos) Herrera-Candelario of
In 2007 Carlitos’ parents sued AgMart, claiming that their
irresponsible pursuit of profit at the expense of workers’ health and safety
cost Carlitos a normal, healthy life.
They say AgMart, producers of “Santa Sweets” grape tomatoes and
“UglyRipe” heirloom tomatoes, routinely exercised gross negligence and violated
worker safety laws through unsafe practices with dangerous chemicals in their
- spraying fields with workers present;
- ordering workers to reenter recently sprayed fields before the recommended airing out period had passed;
- failing to provide protective equipment to workers;
- burning used pesticide containers next to fields and workers
- applying pesticides up to three times as often as allowed by law
- and negligently using up to eighteen different chemicals on their crops including six classified by the EPA as the most dangerous to humans and the environment and five of which have been shown to cause birth defects in animals.
intentionally ignoring state regulations pertaining to pesticides because "it felt that paying fines to the State was economically less expensive”
Francisca Herrera, Carlitos’ mother, was sprayed with pesticides two or three times a week while working in AgMart’s fields when she was pregnant. The chemicals turned her clothes green and stuck to her face, hair and hands. She worked without gloves because she could not afford to buy them and her employer did not provide them for picking grape tomatoes. (They did, however, provide gloves to workers picking heirloom tomatoes, because AgMart was “concerned that without gloves, the workers could bruise the UglyRipe tomatoes”).
Francisca suffered from skin rashes, headaches, earaches,
burning eyes and sore throats from her exposure to these toxic chemicals but
she continued to work out of economic necessity. Kenneth Rudo, an environmental toxicologist
from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services who has studied
over a thousand pesticide cases over the last eighteen years, testified that
Carlitos’ deformities were “more likely than not” caused by pesticides.
The Mexican Cultural Institute is currently showing an exhibit of photographs by award-winning California photographer Rick Nahmias. Nahmias' photos document "the lives of one of America's largest invisible and disenfranchised populations" (farmworkers) and provides a powerful visual argument about the human cost of US agriculture. The photos are also exhibited in Nahmias' new book, The Migrant Project: Contemporary California Farm Workers, available from University of New Mexico Press.
What is the Human Cost of Feeding America?
Roundtable Discussion with:
Demetrios G Papademetriou, President, Migration Policy Institute
Bruce Goldstein, Executive Director, Farmworker Justice
Irasema Garza, Member of the Board, Farmworker Justice
Rick Nahmias, Photographer, The Migrant Project
Presentation of the exhibit by the photographer
A Reception and book signing will follow.
The Mexican Cultural Institute is located near the Columbia Heights metro station at 2829 16th St NW. To RSVP or for more information: