Close to one hundred children at the Institución Educativa San José in the Nepeña valley (Ancash region) suffered severe intoxication when the Agroindustrias San Jacinto ordered on 17 May the aerial spraying of insecticides in a sugarcane field next to the school. Students suffered head and stomach aches, throat burning sensation and body tremors. Three of them were reported in critical state.
It was clear that no safety protocol was followed for the 9:00 am spraying, including the basic alert sent to the neighbouring population in order to protect their health, food products, animals and plants that may be affected. Local authorities said they will launch a legal action against the company on charges of risking the health and life of the students, while the police will investigate to track the chemical used. Food products from a government-sponsored program were to be discarded and/or evaluated to determine whether they can be consumed by the school children. It is understood that aerial spraying is the riskiest way to apply chemical products because of lack of any control over where the chemical will finally end, particularly the so-called “off-target” area.
Agroindustrias San Jacinto is part of the Grupo Gloria, a Peruvian food conglomerate that in the past two decades has become a large sugar producer. At present it controls five sugar companies, including Casa Grande, Peru’s largest sugar producer, as well as sugar concerns in Ecuador and Argentina.
 The writer has unsuccessfully tried to find the pertinent national legislation on the matter.