Tue, Apr 22, 2014 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

Poisoned by rice pesticides

A 34-year-old American woman living in an old house with her 10 dogs complains about her health.

Since she came to Taiwan, 14 years ago, she has moved a lot, until she found a nice old house perfect for her and the 10 previously stray dogs, which she saved from the streets, surrounded by beautiful rice fields and with a lot of space.

Little did she know what horror awaited her in the spring — a poisonous pesticide.

Every year between April and May, her local rice farmer sprays the rice with it, at 5am, without warning.

For her neighbors it is no problem to just close their windows and start the air conditioner, but the woman’s old house has cracks where the pesticide can get through, to not only poison her, but also her dogs.

Most of the cracks she stuffed with newspaper, but there was no escape from the pesticide. She had to take her dogs, leave the house and go to the coast.

“I don’t get enough sleep and it is really restricting me in my job as a teacher and not only do I love my job as a teacher, also I really like my house and don’t want, neither can [I], move,” she said.

She has no other choice than to accept the fact and try to put up with the pesticide.

Rice pesticide is not just poisoning people and animals. As well as killing the insects on the rice, it also kills all the fish living in the rice fields and it is causing problems for bees trying to find their way home. Even the rice farmer himself and his family have health issues related to it.

Rice is a complex business. The payment is low and not many people stick to the traditional organic way of farming sticky rice, but there is hope. More and more people wake up from their unhealthy life choices and switch to an organic way of living.

The farmer’s son helps the woman a lot by just giving her a simple call, so she can leave the house. He is not very happy with the way his father farms the rice and wants it to change.

The next generation is the key to a healthier future. Too many people have just looked away when it comes to climate change. Only when natural disasters strike does the world begin to listen.

Taiwan is heading the right way. The government needs to pay more attention to this issue. That is why we are trying to attract more attention through the media.

Not only are we in danger of ruining Taiwan’s beautiful landscape, but also everybody should be able to live a healthy life and nobody should suffer or have to move house to be able to do so.

Daria Driessen

Yilan County

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