A new Figueres Presidency to hand Costa Rica over to the U.N.

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | SEPTEMBER 24, 2012

Former Costa Rican president, Jose María Figueres Olsen.

The first time I heard about sustainable development was during high school and throughout my college years. In 1994, Costa Rica had elected president a member of one of the most influential families in the history of the country. Jose Maria Figueres Olsen, the son of Jose Figueres Ferrer, served himself — not the country — from 1994 to 1998. During this time I worked as a Journalist for a local television station in the north region of the country, which allowed me to become aware about environmental issues.

Mr. Figueres made it one of his campaign’s highlights to speak about sustainable development; how Costa Rica was already an example worldwide because of its natural riches, and how it was necessary to implement new and better policies to make sure the country championed environmentally friendly practices which guaranteed conservation.

After planting the seed about sustainable development, Figueres Olsen concluded his tenure while being involved in controversy because of a scandal related to the murder of Jose Joaquin Orozco. The case known as the Chemise Case, had the former Costa Rican president appear as a witness to the case. During four years Figueres managed to obtain international recognition because of his initiative to turn sustainable development into a governing model for Costa Rica. He continued to work on environmental issues in the private sector after disappearing from the Costa Rican political landscape.

Who is this man and what are his ideas?

Mr. Figueres likes to say that his interest about the environment is rooted on his dad’s teachings about living in harmony with nature. Only he knows whether that is truth or not, but the fact is he has managed to make a career out of his interest for sustainability. After his presidency, Figueres founded the Costa Rican Foundation for Sustainable Development. He then traveled to and lived in Europe, where he got involved in the carbon credit scheme. He met and worked with Nicolas Negroponte and Jeffrey Sachs to found the Digital Nations Consortium, an entity overseen by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Later, he was called by the former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to head a U.N. group on Information, Communication and Technology, which later landed him the position of Chairman of the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force (ICT). In 2000, Figueres was appointed Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, the well-known globalist, elitist group where he occupied the position of CEO. After 3 years at the Forum, he resigned due to his involvement in a consultancy scandal with Alcatel.

Immediately after, Figueres got involved with an organization known today as Concordia 21 in Spain. He was also a director of the globalist run World Wild Fund and Chairman of the Carbon War Room, an organization founded by Virgin’s Richard Branson, a man who promotes the carbon credit hoax, through which individuals like Al Gore sell rights for corporations to pollute the environment as long as they pay royalties to businesses that work in the imaginary carbon emissions market. Companies such as the one headed by Gore emit worthless pieces of paper labeled as licenses that allow large corporate conglomerates to pollute at will.

Jose Maria Figueres departed Costa Rica in 1998, but in a sense he actually never left. Mr. Figueres sat out while the two main political parties voted to amend the Costa Rican Constitution so that former presidents could run for office again. Now, in 2012, and after several rapid visits, he returned a couple of months ago to his native country to present an initiative that he labeled “Proyecto País” where he invited the public to share their ideas about how to transform the country. Figueres’ plan was and still is to make people think he wants everyone involved in the transformation of the country, although the truth is that his plan is already full of preconceived ideas and plans that will be implemented whether Costa Rican people agree or not.

Figueres himself did not present any concrete plans in public, he simply seemed to be serving as a forum creator. When asked about the lack of concrete ideas, Figueres said that his “Proyecto País” was just the beginning of a long process that sought to involve the whole society. This is a very important detail which I will complement later when I explain how Mr. Figueres intends to use his international experience and name to once again run for the presidency in Costa Rica, a decision he has already made public through spokespeople.

After using the presidency as a platform to make a name abroad, Figueres spent the best part of the last decade in Geneva and Zurich, rubbing shoulders with the elite in Europe and also in the United States, learning how to implement United Nations environmental policy so that he could later implant it in Costa Rica.

While Jose Maria Figueres gained experience on the private sector abroad, his sister Christiana Figueres became the head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This organization is the strongest pusher of United Nations initiatives to curb carbon emissions, impose the Kyoto Protocol on nations, reduce or prevent development in the third world and de-industrialize developed nations; all in the name of saving the Earth from a catastrophe that the organization blames on all humans.

Both Jose Maria Figueres and Christiana Figueres are involved in private ventures that profit from the United Nations led environmental alarmism, that is supported by people like Richard Branson, Al Gore, Ted Turner and organizations such as the World Wild Fund, and philanthropic organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. All of these people and organizations called for the implementation of policies to drastically reduce the world’s population. The Figueres siblings have also contributed to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Climate Neutral Network,  an international initiative of which Costa Rica is a member nation.

Costa Rica already favors U.N. globalist environmental policies, such as the Carbon Neutrality Strategy, which seeks to eliminate all carbon emissions by the year 2021. UNEP praised Costa Rica’s carbon cutting scheme as one of the most innovative the organization has seen:

“[…] a balanced zero or negative national inventory of emissions by sources and absorption by sinks of all anthropogenic activities of the different sectors considered by the IPCC Guidelines on Inventories of Greenhouse Gases. This strategy seeks to have zero impact on the climate.”

A second Figueres presidency will simply mean an acceleration in the hand over of the Costa Rican territory to the United Nations.

But how will this be accomplished? The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the U.N. organization headed by Christiana Figueres, created a model to tie up all nations and to absorb them as “champions” of the environment. In a document called Establishing National Authorities for the CDM, which was edited by Christiana herself, the organization explains how to infiltrate and conquer nation-states from the inside, while establishing a UN led National Environmental Authority (NA) governed by rules and regulations created by the United Nations.

How will Figueres hand over Costa Rica to the U.N.?

CDM stands for Clean Development Model and the idea is to challenge national organizations; both governmental and NGOs to press societies to create a sort of environmental National Authority (NA) which eventually becomes the manager of everything related to the handling of resources, urban and rural development, population control, national protected territories and so on.

The idea, as the U.N. proposes on its Agenda 21 document, is to keep human populations limited to narrow pieces of land, where they live in tight, compact housing units, while most of the territories remain untouched. See below the future map of the United States as the United Nations intends to turn the country into an off-limits area should Agenda 21 be fully implemented.

As you can see, only a small fraction of the American territory — shown in light green — is left for humans to live, while most of the continental U.S. is “saved” for the purposes of “sustainable development”. The same model being applied today in the United States will be enacted everywhere else in the world where governments signed in favor of the Kyoto Protocol, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the World Heritage Program and where society permits the creation and legitimation of National Authorities such as the one described on the CDM document. It is necessary to emphasize that given the drastic reduction of land where people will be allowed to live, the UN expects two things to happen. One, concentrate populations in highly compact urban centers, where everything is controlled by the government. Two, a significant decrease in the number of people who live on this planet.

Although the complete PDF is filled with revelations as to how the globalists intend to grab national territories from the hands of their rightful owners, most of the juicy details regarding the ways a National Authority works is explained beginning on page 53 and up until page 64 of the guide created specifically for developing countries. Page 53 begins with an explanation about how National Authorities have evolved throughout the years.

The Takeover

Before implanting the NA, the document advises interested parties to conduct an assessment on the conditions available in each country. That assessment, it says, must include the political environment, political stability, ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, institutional rivalries, intersectoral communication, technical knowledge and so on. The U.N. basically requires the interested parties to complete the field work to gauge the level of acceptance or rejection that a NA would have, before implanting its policy framework.

The PDF warns about resistance from “climate skeptics, environmentalists who oppose certain side effects of projects and activists that may feel that there are more urgent social or economic issues to be supported. If these groups can have a negative impact on the NA’s implementation, the strategy must consider working with them in identifying how national needs can be met through the CDM.”

This is a typical approach from globalist organizations which intends to make people feel involved in the decision-making process, even though all the relevant decisions have already been made. What Agenda 21 is trying to implement are a series of policies created at global conflagrations to be implemented at the local level. The same model used with the NA’s is implemented during U.N. environmental gatherings such as the Rio+20 in 2012.

According to the CDM document, the steps to create an NA are as follows:

* Define the NA’s mission and objectives (a process that has been already completed by the U.N. but that is left open-ended so that globalist minions in each country convince their people to accept the idea that country’s objectives are the same ones sought by the U.N.).

* Obtain official status (this steps seeks to legitimize the NA’s work at the national level as well as to look for government exceptions, funding from the taxpayers, force nations to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and so on).

* Review and establish national legal framework (as explained in the CDM document, this step intends to make any and all decisions made by the NA binding for the government and all organizations associated with it. In a sense, it is the legal takeover of the country).

*Align program strategies with national sustainable development priorities (during this process, the NA acts as if it is trying to involve the community, but in reality, what it does is present already prepared policies which people then vote on, as supposed to creating their own initiatives).

* Attain broad stakeholder participation (through this step, the NA seeks to get important social and corporate groups involved. The broad stakeholders will be the founders of the NA until it manages to obtain government and international donations from foundations, philanthropic groups and the U.N. itself).

* Obtain financial and non-financial resources (at this point the NA has earned the respect and visibility of the society, as a tool to execute projects that intend to “conserve and protect” natural resources, but that in reality seek to limit the access of the population to those areas, which are later developed for elite members).

* Staff the NA (the organization opens its doors to local shakers and movers, but the management is done from outside the country either by having a UN minion come into the country, or by training local uninformed people who are compartmentalized).

* Establish relationships with the national focal point for climate change and other ministries (the NA takes over the policies of local ministries and their work in construction, development, housing, conservation, and creates rules for the administration of existing national parks and conservation areas already in the hands of the United Nations).

That is, in a nutshell, how the take over happens. If you would like to learn more details, please read the complete document.

The Implementation Process

While reading the CDM document, it is clear that right off the bat, the U.N. and its organizations intend to make countries abide by its own rules. The U.N. provides no chance for locals to bring their own ideas. The process of creating a National Authority limits participant organizations and nations to simply vote on the already existing rules and regulations. On page 75 of the CDM, the guide is very clear about how the evaluation and approval process of projects will be conducted.

“The evaluation and approval process can be designed in four steps: 1) adopt international criteria 2) develop national criteria 3) establish national procedures for the evaluation and approval of projects and 4) establish guidelines for the presentation of projects.”
Noticeably, everything begins with the adoption of international criteria, from everything else is created.

Those criteria stem from the Kyoto Protocol, which many nation-states signed onto since its inception in 1992. The CDM guide provides three criteria for evaluating and approving projects:

1. Projects must assist Non-Annex I Parties “in achieving sustainable development and contributing to the ultimate objective of the Convention.”
2. Projects must result in “real, measurable and long-term benefits related to the mitigation of climate change.”
3. Projects must result in “reductions in emissions that are additional to any that would occur in the absence of the certified project activity.”

The job of the National Authorities is to capture countries from the inside, given the failure of the United Nations attempts to do it from the outside through their failed international meetings. As explained of pages 75 and 76 of the CDM guide, the projects created through the NA must have “Consistency with UNFCCC decisions”. For a project to be deemed as compliant, it must provide solutions to the widely debunked global warming and climate change hoaxes that the U.N. have been running since the early 1980s. That is right, the globalists  who know warn us about global warming, are the same people who in the 70s and 80s tried to scare the world about “global cooling”.

Everything surrounding the National Authority’s operation deals with initiatives to curb carbon emissions, global warming and development. All projects must comply with so-called national sustainable development objectives, be congruent with national climate policy and/or carbon offset strategies and whether such projects meet eligibility criteria originated from CDM-established activities, technologies, and so on.

As seen on the diagram above, the National Authority provides a prepared evaluation procedure under which the NA itself decides in every step of the way whether a project is approved or not, based on its own conditions. Through its screening process, the NA can mandate the reformulation of the projects or simply discard them if they do not comply with its rules. This process is completely opposite to what a real grassroots environmental organization — which is what the NA intends to be — would use to approach environmental challenges. In that situation, the communities and their organizations would ultimately decide what projects should be implemented.

Marketing and Propaganda

The work of a National Authority goes beyond being the decider on environmental policy. It is also the marketer of projects which are carefully filtered so that they adhere to U.N.’s policies. Just as it happens in the decision-making process, the marketing of projects works based on the deeply flawed belief — not scientifically proven — that human activity is the generator of the largest amounts of greenhouse gases, and that these gases are the cause of climate change and global warming. So according to the CDM guide, for a project to be considered as a valid initiative, it must have it at its core to reduce greenhouse gases.

“At the basic level it is important to understand what all CDM projects have in common: the environmental objective of lowering the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” says the document. It goes on to refer people to another flawed instrument to measure a project’s eligibility. “The details of any of these methodologies can be found in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) Reference Manual.”

The success of the propaganda campaign is based on diverting people’s attention from real environmental problems such as Genetically Modified Organisms, and to concentrate efforts on proven lies. That is why the NA will always refer people to failed policies regarding renewable energy, energy efficiency, emission reductions, transportation, waste management and the most important of all, land use change. On ways to use lands, especially publicly owned lands (government-owned lands) the document suggests the use of pep-talk on hoaxes such as biodiversity protection, soil conservation, watershed maintenance and sustainable forest management.

The Figueres Connection

The Figueres connection between globalist policies and the management of Costa Rica as a nation is very well established. Not only have the Figueres siblings gained experience in the private sector regarding so-called sustainable development, but they have also been trained to bring U.N. propaganda and policies to Costa Rica. The Proyecto País that Jose María Figueres presented a couple of months ago in San José has at its core the same goals that the United Nations has: to avoid the development of third world countries.

According to Alvaro Ramírez, the Executive Coordinator of the project said it very clearly. The Proyecto País seeks to change the direction of the country from the traditional development-centered process to a ‘soul-seeking’ adventure. Ramírez regurgitated United Nations talking points about how development and the enjoyment of benefits that wealth have usually provided are bad, and that people need to start thinking about ways to live in harmony with themselves and the environment. He added that Costa Rica is today a nation without goals or purposes and that this is where the plan presented by Figueres intends to help.

Jorge Oller, another Figueres assistant in the Proyecto País initiative, explained that he is in it because as a Costa Rican person, he wants to contribute with the former president’s idea to “turn all this process into a collective dream.” Not only there is a political and private sector connection between the Figueres family and the U.N., but also an ideological one. “This new star we are proposing to be the guide for the country is based on four pillars that are included in our document presented yesterday.” Those pillars: identity and values of the Costa Rican society, inclusion of segregated sectors of the Costa Rican society, innovation, and the fourth pillar is, as you might have guessed already, sustainability.

In case you only know sustainability as a tool to help conserve the environment, which is the hoax the United Nations uses to swindle people into supporting its rules and regulations, please let me explain the part that the U.N. does not want you to know.

The United Nations works through various organizations that fancy themselves as pro environment, pro conservation, pro humanity and pro life. However, the core of these organizations revolve around exactly the opposite. Take for example the UN Population Fund (UNPF), which in numerous occasions called for a global population reduction by use of family planning which is code for depopulation by decreasing fertility among humans. A recent study by this organization claims that as urbanization extends further outside large population centers, the planet’s biodiversity will suffer dearly due to human activity which will increase the impact of global warming.

Scientists working for UNPF suggest that humans would be served better if they lived in large dense and highly controlled and monitored cities. “We certainly don’t want them strolling about the entire countryside. We want them to save land for nature by living closely [together],” said their study. Studies conducted by universities state that urbanization will expand out of control and that such expansion must be curbed in order to protect the planet’s resources from being used by humans. But this calculation and the impact the alleged expansion will have is measured according to the already debunked global warming and climate change alarmism.

Environmental organizations, philanthropic foundations, universities and of course the United Nations, all of which favor Agenda 21 policies as the base for social control, seek to transform current living standards around the planet but not so that everyone lives equally well. In fact, those policies intend to make people equally poor — with the exception of the global elite. The globalists themselves call the new transformed cities eco-communities and they will be placed that respect United Nations regulations regarding production of CO2 to the and development.

One of the most noticeable successes of the U.N. has been the way it has infiltrated countries through fake grassroots entities that seem to organically push for conservation. These entities are funded by programs promoted by the hijacked governments or by international environmental organization who receive large donations from globalists. Just last week, Costa Rica announced the funding 11 new conservation projects at a cost of 208 million colones, just over $400,000. The monies taken from taxpayers pockets will work on projects related to biodiversity and climate change. The local mainstream press announced the projects financing as an exchange between the governments of Costa Rica and the United States. According to the reports, the U.S. forgives Costa Rican debt in exchange for investment in environmental projects.

The monies given to these projects are managed by the Costa Rica Por Siempre Association, a supposed non-profit organization that manages public-private initiatives developed by the Costa Rican government. According to its web page, the association works with known globalist organizations such as the Nature Conservancy. In fact let’s take a look at the goals established by the Costa Rica por Siempre Association as the organization displays them on its website:

1. Costa Rica will at least duplicate the extension of its marine protected areas.

2. The government of Costa Rica will improve the management of protected areas through specifically developed administrative tools, by updating the management plans and also by improving its tax collection system.

3. Costa Rica will identify and label the threats, potential impacts and adapting capacity of ecosystems that are more vulnerable to climate change.

4. External members of the initiative (The Nature Conservancy, Linden Trust for Conservation, Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, Walton Family Foundation), will create a source of continuous funding to be utilized for the protection of protected areas through a privately managed trust fund. Such trust fund will be used as the government deems it appropriate in a plan that seeks to achieve the goals established by the United Nations Convention of Biological Diversity.

As seen in this example, the ultimate goal this and other environmental associations and organizations have is to help enable a system of globalist domination at the local level. In doing so, the globalist-controlled organizations will seek to use taxpayer funds to rob Costa Rican people of their natural resources which will fall in the hands of the United Nations.

But there is more. The creators of the Clean Development Mechanism actually say the CDM and the National Authorities it promotes are the only way forward. “COP-7 marked a milestone in the climate change negotiations as Parties to the Protocol sat down to decide on the rules and modalities for the CDM as a global mechanism, and the procedures for individual CDM projects. The CDM executive board continues to move this agenda forward.”

As in most cases it is in the hands of the Costa Rican people to prevent the handover of their country to the United Nations. Costa Rica must avoid the election of Jose Maria Figueres or anyone else, from any political party, who seeks to steal Costa Rican from the Costa Rican people. They must also reject through voting and effective forms of social opposition the adoption of policies originated in international globalist organizations that intend to control the land and the people of Costa Rica. One good first step would be to abandon the United Nations, which would liberate Costa Rica of the tyrannical compromises that were signed by previous governments including that of Figueres himself.

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Novo Foco de Risco Biológico na América Latina

POR LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | 5 AGOSTO, 2012

Ninguém pode ser muito cauteloso quando se trata de uma ameaça biológica, e não existe uma instalação absolutamente segura quando se trata de agentes patogénicos perigosos. O fato de que um laboratório seja construído e dado um certo nível de segurança para autorizar um local como em ótimo estado para receber e analisar vírus, bactérias e outros agentes biológicos não significa necessariamente que este seja. Nós todos concordamos que já há suficientes laboratórios biológicos em todo o mundo que podem ser usados ​​para analisar e avaliar um organismo desconhecido e determinar se ele representa uma ameaça para a humanidade ou não.

A história de fugas biológicas que aconteceram em laboratórios de alta segurança reforça o fato de que não há locais 100% seguros para brincar com microrganismos perigosos, especialmente quando não há necessidade de fazer tal coisa. Embora a avaliação de ameaças biológicas é considerada a melhor maneira de prevenir pandemias, porque permite aos cientistas estudar o que é um patógeno pode causar na saúde dos seres humanos e outros seres vivos, um tem que saber se o aumento do risco durante a exploração e manipulação desses organismos vale a pena, ou se a criação de novos laboratórios de alto nível biotecnologiaco ainda é necessário, dado o fato de que muitos acidentes têm ocorrido.

O número de acidentes em laboratórios sofisticados, principalmente nos países desenvolvidos, criaram a maioria dos maiores pesadelos da humanidade. Na maioria dos casos, as doenças são estudadas, a vezes até geneticamente fabricadas sob a premissa de que é necessário a fim de encontrar a cura. Esta situação ocorreu quando o virologista Yoshihiro Kawaoka experimentou com alterações nos genes do vírus da gripe H5N1 para estudar supostamente sua mutagênese. Os resultados das experiências e os procedimentos utilizados para a realização destas experiências foram publicadas mais tarde. Neste caso, um novo patógeno altamente virulento foi criado e em seguida o modo da sua criacao foi feito público, de jeito que qualquer pessoa com conhecimento básico pode cria-lo.

Embora a história mostra que os riscos superam os benefícios quando você brincar de Deus com agentes patogénicos perigosos, mais laboratórios de estudo estão sendo abertos em todo o mundo. Na maioria dos casos, esses laboratórios são financiados por empresas privadas, como grandes conglomerados farmacêuticos, no entanto, no mundo em desenvolvimento, o governo geralmente paga a conta. Tal é o caso da Costa Rica, onde o Instituto Nacional de Pesquisa em Nutrição e Saúde (INCIENSA) abriu recentemente um laboratório de contenção nível III para estudar e manter organismos que apresentam riscos biológicos. Embora o laboratório não tem tarefa urgente para realizar, com exceção do estudo de casos de tuberculose que existem no país, os contribuintes costarriquenhos tiveram que contribuir com uma grande parte dos ¢ 230 milhões de colones, cerca de 453.000 dólares.

A idéia por trás da abertura dos laboratórios biológicos, tais como o localizado em Tres Rios, Costa Rica, é que os cientistas devem reduzir o tempo entre a descoberta de um organismo novo perigoso que é resistente aos medicamentos existentes e à criação e implementação de contra medidas médicas, como novas vacinas e produtos farmacêuticos. No entanto, como mostra a história, não há tal coisa como uma cura para os organismos criados artificialmente ou que ocorrem naturalmente que podem ou não causar pandemias. Décadas de pesquisa não têm sido capazes de encontrar uma cura para a AIDS, SARS, dengue, e assim por diante. É por isso que o argumento de que a abertura de mais laboratórios biológicos e a criação de microorganismos geneticamente modificados, a fim de salvar todos nós de uma pandemia mundial é simplesmente errada. O único objetivo que foi alcançado com a abordagem atual para combater doenças é aumentar os benefícios econômicos das empresas farmacêuticas.

Existem duas razões pelas quais a pesquisa biológica, como é realizada hoje, é simplesmente uma perda de tempo. Primeiro, a investigação não pode acompanhar a evolução dos microrganismos e o número diferente de caminhos que a evolução pode tomar. A ciência está sempre um passo atrás, especialmente após os microorganismos foram continuamente expostos a antibióticos ineficazes. Em segundo lugar, qual é o beneficio de que centenas ou milhares de pessoas participem da pesquisa de estudos sobre agentes biológicos em quanto os governos ao redor do mundo abertamente realizam experimentos biológicos, muitas vezes sobre seus próprio povos? A menos que a ciência descobra novos caminhos para alcançar a evolução viral e bacteriana de forma eficaz, por exemplo, todo o dinheiro e esforços nos laboratórios de nível III ou IV são simplesmente um desperdício de tempo e recursos. Além disso, a não ser que os governos decidam pôr fim à experimentação com agentes biológicos, não faz sentido investir recursos em pesquisas de tratamentos ou curas.

Apesar que os esforços para a realização de pesquisa científica são bem-vindos, a verdade é que a tuberculose é uma das doenças menos importantes em que se pode pensar quando se fala sobre o estudo de patógenos perigosos. Segundo a Organização Mundial da Saúde, Costa Rica teve apenas 14 casos de tuberculose por 100.000 habitantes para os anos 2008, 2009 e 2010. “O país não tem um laboratório até agora e isso nos ajuda muito, especialmente para identificar tuberculose resistente aos medicamentos”, diz Carlos Trabado, o Coordenador do Centro Nacional de Pesquisa em Tuberculose na Costa Rica. Como em outros laboratórios de alto nível de biotecnologia, o novo laboratório de Nível III em Costa Rica terá universitários como parte da força de trabalho. “A universidade oferece aos alunos com apenas uma vaga noção, mas isso não é suficiente para trabalhar aqui, por isso, nos damos uma formação para eles”, disse Trabado. É realmente uma boa idéia permitir que os estudantes universitários, sem experiência lidem com ameaças biológicas, mesmo com supervisão de um adulto?

Durante o tempo em que a maioria dos países estudam as ameaças biológicas como uma maneira de criar agentes patogénicos geneticamente modificados, em vez de na verdade encontrar a cura para as doenças já existentes, o que poderia ser o resultado de mais e mais países continuarem a abrir instalações para estudar os riscos biológicos para combater as ameaças percebidas de inimigos ou grupos terroristas que podem ou não possuir uma arma biológica? Se o que você quer é parar todas as ameaças biológicas, não faz mais sentido destruir todos os agentes perigosos em todas as suas variedades e fechar instalações de alto nível, onde um agente biológico pode escapar ou ser removido por estudantes universitários inexperientes ou trabalhadores desonestos? Isso já aconteceu no passado, não é?

Isso não significa que pesquisas científicas não devem ser realizadas. O importante é sempre pesar riscos e benefícios antes de começar uma nova experiência ou a abertura de um novo laboratório que irá manter as ameaças biológicas. Não pode-se ser nunca demasiado cauteloso ao lidar com conformismo ou agentes biológicos. Mas essa não é a idéia que você recebe do Sr. Trabado. “Os vírus e bactérias que permaneceram aqui, não podem sair, e se eles saírem, já estarao mortos.” É exatamente este tipo de absoluta confiança que faz com que a maioria dos acidentes em locais sensíveis, tais como laboratórios de contenção de risco biológico acontecam. Lembre-se que o nível III é apenas um passo abaixo do nível superior, que é o nível IV.

A separação entre um agente patogénico em um laboratório nivel III e a população é um mundano filtro HEPA, antes de que o ar utilizado dentro do laboratório é enviado para fora. Os filtros HEPA deste tipo retém 99,97% de todas as partículas de 0,3 microns ou maiores. Embora a pesquisa científica agora parece estar centrada apenas na tuberculose, um verdadeiro laboratório de nível III pode lidar com microorganismos muito mais perigosos que podem ser transmitidos através da inalação, e que muitas vezes somente precisam de uma dose baixa para causar uma infecção generalizada que pode causar pandemias graves ou fatais. Eles incluem vírus do Nilo Ocidental, o vírus da encefalite eqüina venezuelana, encefalite eqüina do Leste, SARS, Salmonella typhi, Coxiella burnetii, febre do vale do Rift, Rickettsia rickettsii, e o vírus da febre amarela.

Nuevo Foco de Riesgo Biológico en América Latina

POR LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | 28 JULIO, 2012

Nadie puede ser demasiado cauteloso cuando se trata de una amenaza biológica, y no hay tal cosa como una instalación absolutamente segura cuando se trata de agentes patógenos peligrosos. El hecho de que un laboratorio sea construido y dado un determinado nivel de seguridad con el fin de autorizarlo como un local  equipado para recibir y analizar virus, bacterias y otros agentes biológicos no significa necesariamente que lo sea. Todos estamos de acuerdo que hay suficientes laboratorios biológicos en todo el mundo que se pueden utilizar para analizar y evaluar un organismo desconocido y determinar si representa una amenaza para la humanidad o no.

La historia de los llamados laboratorios de máxima seguridad que fueron el origen de fugas biológicas refuerza el hecho de que no hay lugares 100% seguros para jugar con microorganismos peligrosos, sobre todo cuando no hay necesidad de hacerlo. Aunque la evaluación de amenaza biológica es considerada como la mejor manera de prevenir las pandemias, ya que permite a los científicos estudiar con seguridad lo que un agente patógeno podría hacer a nosotros los seres humanos y otros seres vivos, uno tiene que preguntarse si el aumento del riesgo de mantener y manipular estos organismos vale la pena , o si la creación de nuevos laboratorios de biotecnología de alto nivel es aún necesario, dado el hecho de que numerosos accidentes han ocurrido.

El número de accidentes biológicos en laboratorios muy sofisticados, principalmente en los países desarrollados, causó la mayor parte de las más grandes pesadillas de la humanidad. En la mayoría de los casos, las enfermedades se estudian, a veces incluso se fabrican genéticamente bajo la premisa de que es necesario crear la enfermedad a fin de encontrar la cura. Esta situación se produjo cuando el virólogo Yoshihiro Kawaoka experimentó con alteraciones de los genes del virus de la gripe H5N1 para estudiar supuestamente su mutagénesis. Los resultados de los experimentos y los procedimientos utilizados para llevar a cabo esos experimentos se hicieron públicos meses después. En este caso, un nuevo agente patógeno altamente virulento fue creado y, a continuación se hizo público para que cualquier persona con conocimiento básico pueda probar por sí mismo.

A pesar de que la historia demuestra que los riesgos superan los beneficios, cuando se juega a ser Dios con patógenos peligrosos, los instalaciones de estudio se siguen abriendo en todo el mundo. En la mayoría de los casos, estos laboratorios son financiados por empresas privadas, tales como los grandes conglomerados farmacéuticos, sin embargo, en el mundo en desarrollo, el gobierno por lo general paga la cuenta. Tal es el caso de Costa Rica, donde el Instituto Nacional de Investigación sobre Nutrición y Salud (INCIENSA) ha inaugurado recientemente un laboratorio de contención de nivel III para estudiar y mantener organismos que representan riesgos biológicos. Aunque el laboratorio no tiene ninguna tarea urgente para asumir, salvo el estudio de casos de tuberculosis que existen a nivel local, los contribuyentes costarricenses tuvieron que contribuir con una gran parte de los ¢ 230 millones de colones, aproximadamente, 453.000 dólares.

La idea detrás de la apertura de los laboratorios biológicos, tales como el de Tres Ríos, Costa Rica, es que los científicos deben reducir el tiempo entre el descubrimiento de un nuevo organismo peligroso que es resistente a los medicamentos existentes y la creación e implementación de contramedidas médicas, al igual que vacunas y productos farmacéuticos nuevos. Sin embargo, como demuestra la historia, no hay tal cosa como una cura para los organismos creados artificialmente o de origen natural que pueden o no pueden causar pandemias. Décadas de investigación no han sido capaces de encontrar una cura para el SIDA, el SARS, la peste bubónica, el dengue, y así sucesivamente. Es por eso que el argumento de que la apertura de más laboratorios biológicos y la creación de microorganismos peligrosos a fin de salvarnos a todos de una pandemia en todo el mundo es simplemente errónea. La única meta que se ha logrado con el enfoque actual para hacer frente a la enfermedad es aumentar los beneficios económicos de las corporaciones farmacéuticas.

Hay dos razones por qué la investigación biológica, en la forma en que se lleva a cabo hasta hoy, es simplemente una pérdida de tiempo. En primer lugar, la investigación no puede ponerse al día con la evolución de los microorganismos y el diferente número de rutas que su evolución puede tomar. En pocas palabras, la ciencia está siempre un paso por detrás especialmente después de que los microorganismos han sido continuamente expuestos a antibióticos ineficaces. En segundo lugar, ¿de qué sirve tener cientos o miles de personas que participan de la evaluación e investigación biológica cuando los gobiernos de todo el mundo abiertamente conducen programas de experimentación biológica, a menudo en su propio pueblo? A menos que la ciencia descubra nuevas maneras de alcanzar efectivamente la evolución viral y bacteriana, por ejemplo, todo el dinero y los esfuerzos realizados en los laboratorios de nivel III o IV son simplemente una pérdida de tiempo y recursos. Además, si los gobiernos no deciden poner fín a la experimentación en sus pueblos o en personas de otras regiones del mundo, no tiene sentido invertir recursos en la investigación de tratamientos o curas.

A pesar de los esfuerzos para llevar a cabo investigación científica son bienvenidaos en el caso de Costa Rica, la verdad es que la tuberculosis es una de las enfermedades menos importantes en las que uno puede pensar cuando se habla sobre el estudio de patógenos peligrosos. Según la Organización Mundial de la Salud, Costa Rica tuvo solamente 14 casos de tuberculosis por cada 100.000 habitantes para los años de 2008, 2009 y 2010. “El país no contaba con un laboratorio hasta el momento y esto nos ayuda mucho, sobre todo para identificar la tuberculosis farmacorresistente”, dice Carlos Trabado, el Coordinador del Centro Nacional de Investigación de la Tuberculosis en Costa Rica. Como sucede en otros laboratorios de biotecnología de alto nivel, el nuevo laboratorio de nivel III en Costa Rica tendrá estudiantes universitarios como parte de la mano de obra. “La universidad ofrece a los estudiantes sólo una vaga noción, pero esto no es suficiente para trabajar aquí, así que les damos formación continua”, dijo Trabado. ¿Es realmente una buena idea permitir a estudiantes universitarios sin experiencia manipular amenazas biológicas, incluso con supervisión de un adulto?

Durante la época cuando la mayoría de las naciones ven el estudio de amenazas biológicas como una manera de crear agentes patógenos genéticamente modificados en lugar de verdaderamente encontrar las cura de las enfermedades existentes, cuál podría ser el resultado de que más y más países sigan abriendo  instalaciones para el estudio de riesgos biológicos para contrarrestar supuestas amenazas de enemigos o de los grupos terroristas que pueden o no poseer un arma biológica? ¿Si lo que se quiere es poner fín a todas las amenazas biológicas, no es destruir todos los agentes biológicos peligrosos con todas sus variedades y cerrar  instalaciones de alto nivel, desde donde uno de los agentes biológicos puede escapar o ser sacado por estudiantes universitarios sin experiencia o trabajadores deshonestos? Ha ocurrido en el pasado, no es así?

Esto no quiere decir que la investigación científica no deba llevarse a cabo. Lo importante es sopesar siempre los riesgos y los beneficios antes de iniciar un nuevo experimento o la apertura de un nuevo laboratório que mantendrá amenazas biológicas. Nunca puede haber demasiada cautela o conformismo cuando se manipulan agentes biológicos. Sin embargo, esa no es la idea que se obtiene del Sr. Trabado. “Los virus y las bacterias que que se mantienen aquí no pueden salir y si lo hacen saldrán ya muertos”, dijo Trabado. Es exactamente este tipo de confianza absoluta lo que causa la mayoría de los accidentes en lugares sensibles, como los laboratorios de contención de riesgo biológico. Recuerde que el nivel III es sólo un paso por debajo del nivel superior, que es el nivel IV.

La separación entre un patógeno peligroso contenido en un laboratório nivel III y la población se realiza mediante el uso de un mundao filtro HEPA, antes de que el aire utilizado en el interior del laboratorio se envíe hacia afuera. Los filtros HEPA de este tipo retienen el 99,97% de todas las partículas que son de 0,3 micras o mayor tamaño. Aunque la investigación científica en estos momentos parece estar centrada sólo en la tuberculosis, un verdadero laboratorio de nivel III puede manejar microorganismos mucho más peligrosos que pueden ser transmitidos a través de la inhalación, y de los cuales a menudo se necesitan dosis bajas para producir una infección masiva que puede causar enfermedad grave o potencialmente mortal. Entre ellos están el virus del Nilo Occidental, el virus de la encefalitis equina venezolana, virus de la encefalitis equina del oriental, coronavirus del SRAS, Salmonella typhi, Coxiella burnetii, virus de la fiebre del Valle del Rift, rickettsii Rickettsia, y el virus de la fiebre amarilla.

New Bio Hazard ‘Hot Spot’ in Latin America

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | JULY 27, 2012

No one can ever be too cautious when dealing with a bio threat, and there is not such a thing as an absolutely safe facility when dealing with dangerous pathogens. The fact that a laboratory is built and given a certain safety level in order to authorize it as a locale that is fitted to receive and analyze viruses, bacteria and other bio agents does not necessarily make it so. We can all agree that there are enough bio labs around the world that can be used to analyze and evaluate an unknown organism and determine whether it represents a threat to humanity or not.

The history of so-called maximum security bio labs that were the origin of bio leaks reinforces the fact that there are no 100% safe places to play around with dangerous microorganisms, especially when there is no need to do it. Although biological threat assessment is seen as the best way to prevent pandemics, because it allows scientists to safely study what a pathogen could do to us humans and other living things, one has to ask whether the increased risk to keep and manipulate such organisms is worthwhile, or if the creation of new high level bio labs is even necessary, given the fact that numerous accidents and non-accidents have occurred.

The number of  bio accidents in highly sophisticated labs, mainly in developed countries, caused most of humanity’s biggest nightmares. In most cases, diseases are studied, sometimes even manufactured or genetically engineered under the premise that it is necessary to create the disease in order to find the cure. This scenario took place when virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka experimented altering the genes of the H5N1 flu virus in order to supposedly study its mutagenesis. The results of the experiments and the procedures used to carry out those experiments were made public months later. In this case, a new highly virulent pathogen was created and then experiment was put out for anyone to try for themselves.

Despite the fact that history shows the risks outweigh the benefits, when playing God with dangerous pathogens, more high level facilities continue to open shop all over the world. In most cases these bio labs are financed by private enterprises such as large pharmaceutical conglomerates, however in the developing world, government usually picks up the tab. That is the case of Costa Rica, where the Institute for Research on Nutrition and Health (INCIENSA) has recently opened a level III Biohazard Containment Laboratory. Although the lab doesn’t have an urgent task to take on, except for studying cases of tuberculosis in that exist locally, taxpayers had to contribute with a big chunk of the ¢230 million, approximately, $453,000.

The idea behind the opening of bio labs such as the one in Tres Rios, Costa Rica, is that scientists must reduce the time between the discovery of new dangerous organism that is resistant to existent drugs, and the creation and implementation of medical countermeasures, like vaccines and new pharmaceuticals. However, as history shows, there isn’t such a thing as a cure for artificially created or naturally occurring organisms that may or may not cause pandemics. Decades or research have not been able to find a cure for AIDS, SARS, Bubonic plague, Dengue, and so on. That is why the rationale that opening more bio labs and creating dangerous microorganisms in order to save us all from a worldwide pandemic is simply flawed. The only goal that has been achieved with the current approach to dealing with disease is increase the economic benefits of the large pharmaceutical powerhouses.

There are two reason why bio research the way it is carried out today is simply a waste of time. First, research can never catch up with the evolution of microorganisms and the different number of paths their evolution can take. Put simply, science is always a step or two behind, especially after microorganisms have been continuously exposed to ineffective antibiotics. Second, what good does having hundreds or thousands of people participating of biological assessment and research do, when governments around the world openly conduct bio warfare experimentation, often on their own people? Unless science discovers new ways to effectively catch up with viral and bacterial evolution, for example, all monies and efforts being done in level III or IV bio labs are simply a waste of time and resources. Also, unless governments decide that experimenting on their people or on people from other regions of the world, there is no sense in investing resources on research for treatments or cures.

Although the effort to conduct research is welcomed in the case of Costa Rica, the truth is that Tuberculosis is one of the least important diseases one can think of when talking about the study of dangerous pathogens. According to the World Health Organization, Costa Rica had only 14 cases of tuberculosis for every 100,000 people for the years of 2008, 2009 and 2010. “The country did not have a lab so far and this helps us a lot, especially to identify drug-resistant tuberculosis,” says Carlos Trabado, the Coordinator of the National Center for Tuberculosis Research in Costa Rica. As it happens in other high level bio labs, the new level III lab in Costa Rica will have college students as part of the inexperienced labor force. “The university gives the students only a vague notion, but this is not enough to work here, so we give them continuous training,” said Trabado. Is it really a good idea to have college students handling bio threats, even with adult supervision?

During times when most nations see bio threat assessment as a way to create genetically modified pathogens as supposed to truly find cures for the existent ones, what could be the outcome  of more and more countries continuing to open bio hazard facilities to counteract supposed threats from foes or terrorist groups who may or may not possess a biological weapon? Isn’t the best way to end all biological threats to destroy all dangerous bio agents with all of their strains and close down the high level facilities from where one of those bio agents can escape or be carried out by inexperienced college students or dishonest workers? It has happened in the past, hasn’t it?

This is not to say that scientific research should not be conducted. The important thing is to always weigh the risks and the benefits before starting a new experiment or opening a new bio threat hot spot. There can never be too much caution or conformism when handling bio agents. However, that is not the idea one gets from Mr. Trabado, at the level III lab in Costa Rica. “Viruses and bacteria that come out of here will be already dead, or will simply not come out at all,” said Trabado. It is exactly this kind of absolutist self-assurance what causes most of the accidents in sensitive places such as level III Biohazard Containment Laboratories. Remember that level III is just one step below the top level, which is level IV.

The separation between a dangerous pathogen contained in a level III lab and the population is made by a mundane HEPA filter, before the air used in the inside of the lab is sent outside. HEPA filters of this kind remove “99.97% of all particles that are 0.3 micron or larger in size. Although right now scientific research seems to be focusing only on Tuberculosis, a real level III lab can handle much more dangerous microorganisms that may be transmitted via inhalation, that often need low doses to produce a massive infection that can cause serious or life-threatening disease. Among them, there are West Nile virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, Eastern equine encephalitis virus, SARS coronavirus, Salmonella typhi, Coxiella burnetii, Rift Valley fever virus, Rickettsia rickettsii, and yellow fever virus.

What’s Killing Central Americans by the Thousands?

All that doctors can do at this point is speculate about the cause of thousands of unexplained deaths from a mystery disease.

Associated Press
February 11, 2012

Jesus Ignacio Flores started working when he was 16, laboring long hours on construction sites and in the fields of his country’s biggest sugar plantation.

Three years ago his kidneys started to fail and flooded his body with toxins. He became too weak to work, wracked by cramps, headaches and vomiting.

On Jan. 19 he died on the porch of his house. He was 51. His withered body was dressed by his weeping wife, embraced a final time, then carried in the bed of a pickup truck to a grave on the edge of Chichigalpa, a town in Nicaragua’s sugar-growing heartland, where studies have found more than one in four men showing symptoms of chronic kidney disease.

A mysterious epidemic is devastating the Pacific coast of Central America, killing more than 24,000 people in El Salvador and Nicaragua since 2000 and striking thousands of others with chronic kidney disease at rates unseen virtually anywhere else. Scientists say they have received reports of the phenomenon as far north as southern Mexico and as far south as Panama.

Last year it reached the point where El Salvador’s health minister, Dr. Maria Isabel Rodriguez, appealed for international help, saying the epidemic was undermining health systems.

Wilfredo Ordonez, who has harvested corn, sesame and rice for more than 30 years in the Bajo Lempa region of El Salvador, was hit by the chronic disease when he was 38. Ten years later, he depends on dialysis treatments he administers to himself four times a day.

“This is a disease that comes with no warning, and when they find it, it’s too late,” Ordonez said as he lay on a hammock on his porch.

Many of the victims were manual laborers or worked in sugar cane fields that cover much of the coastal lowlands. Patients, local doctors and activists say they believe the culprit lurks among the agricultural chemicals workers have used for years with virtually none of the protections required in more developed countries. But a growing body of evidence supports a more complicated and counterintuitive hypothesis.

The roots of the epidemic, scientists say, appear to lie in the grueling nature of the work performed by its victims, including construction workers, miners and others who labor hour after hour without enough water in blazing temperatures, pushing their bodies through repeated bouts of extreme dehydration and heat stress for years on end. Many start as young as 10. The punishing routine appears to be a key part of some previously unknown trigger of chronic kidney disease, which is normally caused by diabetes and high-blood pressure, maladies absent in most of the patients in Central America.

“The thing that evidence most strongly points to is this idea of manual labor and not enough hydration,” said Daniel Brooks, a professor of epidemiology at Boston University’s School of Public Health, who has worked on a series of studies of the kidney disease epidemic.

Because hard work and intense heat alone are hardly a phenomenon unique to Central America, some researchers will not rule out manmade factors. But no strong evidence has turned up.

“I think that everything points away from pesticides,” said Dr. Catharina Wesseling, an occupational and environmental epidemiologist who also is regional director of the Program on Work, Health and Environment in Central America. “It is too multinational; it is too spread out.

“I would place my bet on repeated dehydration, acute attacks everyday. That is my bet, my guess, but nothing is proved.”

Dr. Richard J. Johnson, a kidney specialist at the University of Colorado, Denver, is working with other researchers investigating the cause of the disease. They too suspect chronic dehydration.

“This is a new concept, but there’s some evidence supporting it,” Johnson said. “There are other ways to damage the kidney. Heavy metals, chemicals, toxins have all been considered, but to date there have been no leading candidates to explain what’s going on in Nicaragua …

“As these possibilities get exhausted, recurrent dehydration is moving up on the list.”

In Nicaragua, the number of annual deaths from chronic kidney disease more than doubled in a decade, from 466 in 2000 to 1,047 in 2010, according to the Pan American Health Organization, a regional arm of the World Health Organization. In El Salvador, the agency reported a similar jump, from 1,282 in 2000 to 2,181 in 2010.

Farther down the coast, in the cane-growing lowlands of northern Costa Rica, there also have been sharp increases in kidney disease, Wesseling said, and the Pan American body’s statistics show deaths are on the rise in Panama, although at less dramatic rates.

While some of the rising numbers may be due to better record-keeping, scientists have no doubt they are facing something deadly and previously unknown to medicine.

In nations with more developed health systems, the disease that impairs the kidney’s ability to cleanse the blood is diagnosed relatively early and treated with dialysis in medical clinics. In Central America, many of the victims treat themselves at home with a cheaper but less efficient form of dialysis, or go without any dialysis at all.

At a hospital in the Nicaraguan town of Chinandega, Segundo Zapata Palacios sat motionless in his room, bent over with his head on the bed.

“He no longer wants to talk,” said his wife, Enma Vanegas.

His levels of creatinine, a chemical marker of kidney failure, were 25 times the normal amount.

His family told him he was being hospitalized to receive dialysis. In reality, the hope was to ease his pain before his inevitable death, said Carmen Rios, a leader of Nicaragua’s Association of Chronic Kidney Disease Patients, a support and advocacy group.

“There’s already nothing to do,” she said. “He was hospitalized on Jan. 23 just waiting to die.”

Zapata Palacios passed away on Jan. 26. He was 49.

Working with scientists from Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua, Wesseling tested groups on the coast and compared them with groups who had similar work habits and exposure to pesticide but lived and worked more than 500 meters (1,500 feet) above sea level.

Some 30 percent of coastal dwellers had elevated levels of creatinine, strongly suggesting environment rather than agrochemicals was to blame, Brooks, the epidemiologist, said. The study is expected to be published in a peer-reviewed journal in coming weeks.

Brooks and Johnson, the kidney specialist, said they have seen echoes of the Central American phenomenon in reports from hot farming areas in Sri Lanka, Egypt and the Indian east coast.

“We don’t really know how widespread this is,” Brooks said. “This may be an under-recognized epidemic.”

Jason Glaser, co-founder of a group working to help victims of the epidemic in Nicaragua, said he and colleagues also have begun receiving reports of mysterious kidney disease among sugar cane workers in Australia.

Despite the growing consensus among international experts, Elsy Brizuela, a doctor who works with an El Salvadoran project to treat workers and research the epidemic, discounts the dehydration theory and insists “the common factor is exposure to herbicides and poisons.”

Nicaragua’s highest rates of chronic kidney disease show up around the Ingenio San Antonio, a plant owned by the Pellas Group conglomerate, whose sugar mill processes nearly half the nation’s sugar. Flores and Zapata Palacios both worked at the plantation.

According to one of Brooks’ studies, about eight years ago the factory started providing electrolyte solution and protein cookies to workers who previously brought their own water to work. But the study also found that some workers were cutting sugar cane for as long as 9 1/2 hours a day with virtually no break and little shade in average temperatures of 30 C (87 F).

In 2006, the plantation, owned by one of the country’s richest families, received $36.5 million in loans from the International Finance Corp., the private-sector arm of the World Bank Group, to buy more land, expand its processing plant and produce more sugar for consumers and ethanol production.

In a statement, the IFC said it had examined the social and environmental impacts of its loans as part of a due diligence process and did not identify kidney disease as something related to the sugar plantation’s operations.

Nonetheless, the statement said, “we are concerned about this disease that affects not only Nicaragua but other countries in the region, and will follow closely any new findings.”

Ariel Granera, a spokesman for the Pellas’ business conglomerate, said that starting as early as 1993 the company had begun taking a wide variety of precautions to avoid heat stress in its workers, from starting their shifts very early in the morning to providing them with many gallons of drinking water per day.

Associated Press reporters saw workers bringing water bottles from their homes, which they refilled during the day from large cylinders of water in the buses that bring them to the fields.

Glaser, the co-founder of the activist group in Nicaragua, La Isla Foundation, said that nonetheless many worker protections in the region are badly enforced by the companies and government regulators, particularly measures to stop workers with failing kidneys from working in the cane fields owned by the Pellas Group and other companies.

Many workers disqualified by tests showing high levels of creatinine go back to work in the fields for subcontractors with less stringent standards, he said. Some use false IDs, or give their IDs to their healthy sons, who then pass the tests and go work in the cane fields, damaging their kidneys.

“This is the only job in town,” Glaser said. “It’s all they’re trained to do. It’s all they know.”

The Ingenio San Antonio mill processes cane from more than 24,000 hectares (60,000 acres) of fields, about half directly owned by the mill and most of the rest by independent farmers.

The trade group for Nicaragua’s sugar companies said the Boston University study had confirmed that “the agricultural sugar industry in Nicaragua has no responsibility whatsoever for chronic renal insufficiency in Nicaragua” because the research found that “in the current body of scientific knowledge there is no way to establish a direct link between sugar cane cultivation and renal insufficiency.”

Brooks, the epidemiologist at Boston University, told the AP that the study simply said there was no definitive scientific proof of the cause, but that all possible connections remained open to future research.

In comparison with Nicaragua, where thousands of kidney disease sufferers work for large sugar estates, in El Salvador many of them are independent small farmers. They blame agricultural chemicals and few appear to have significantly changed their work habits in response to the latest research, which has not received significant publicity in El Salvador.

In Nicaragua, the dangers are better known, but still, workers need jobs. Zapata Palacios left eight children. Three of them work in the cane fields.

Two already show signs of disease.