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Costa Rica largest consumer of pesticides in the world

Costa Rican environmental policy conflicts with excessive use of chemicals in agriculture.

by: Tomás Andréu - Translated from Noticias Aliadas

In the environment, Costa Rica is painted itself green as a fresh broccoli, before the international community. However, the overwhelming presence of pesticides in agriculture demolished that image is increasingly integrated into the way of myth.

Data from the World Resources Institute, an organization based in Washington, USA, dedicated to researching environmental issues, presented to the Central American country as the largest consumer of pesticides in the world, with 51.2 kg per hectare. In Latin America we are quite far, with 16.7 kg Colombia and Ecuador with 6 kg.

The Sixteenth State of the Nation in Sustainable Human Development 2010-year follow-up system of country performance in social, economic, environmental and political development, revealed that in 2009 Costa Rica imported more than 300 TM formulations bromide methyl, agrochemical and components identified as a destroyer of the ozone layer.

This substance is a target of the Montreal Protocol agreement, convention, created in 1995 under the umbrella of the United Nations to protect the ozone layer and has been signed by more than 40 countries.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Studies on Toxic Substances (IRET), National University of Costa Rica in early 2011 revealed that the amount of pesticides imported between 1977 and 2006 increased 340%. In total, the country imported 184,817 tons of pesticides in those 30 years.

Growing more of pesticides, according to IRET, would be the melon, and immediately after the tomato, potato, pineapple and sugar cane.

"These data bare the contradiction in a country living abroad that sells an image of a leader in conservation and is unable to comply with international conventions on environmental firm," says biologist and columnist for Diario Extra, Ignacio Arroyo.

Water Pollution

The same State of the Nation Report 2010 notes that water pollution since 2001 and it was not fecal waste, but by the recurring presence of residual chemicals used in agriculture.

"From the year 2001 have been occurring incidents of chemical contamination, given the excessive use of pesticides in agricultural activities such monoculture, as is the case of pineapple," cites the report. "This is a result of agricultural and urban expansion, which has not considered or respected, the margins of protection of water sources of drinking water."

Damage to the aquifer could increase in the near future, because in the Phytosanitary Service, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), there are about 450 chemicals awaiting the green light to bathe the Costa Rican crops.

While growing debate in political circles about the use of generic agrochemicals versus so-called "brand." Environmental activists say both substances and compounds undermine the health of the population.

The question is: What led Costa Rica to be the number one use of agrochemicals in the world and why farmers work the land and take hold in excess of these products?

According to Fabian Pacheco of the National Expertise Centre for Organic Agriculture, Costa Rica is the number one worldwide in the use of pesticides because the purchasing power of Costa Rican farmer, neglect of agriculture by the Ministry of Agriculture and the strong cultural erosion are the pesticides to become players in the agricultural work.

"The cultural heritage of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador makes the ancient techniques of [pest control] are not susceptible to the propaganda of corporate agriculture," said Pacheco Latinamerica.

Pacheco is a professor, an environmental activist and leading figure in the campaign "Stop spraying," a group founded in 2011 and consists of a group young people who are against mining, oil extraction and for organic markets through information to citizens about the dangers of pesticides and genetically modified foods.

Mass Poisoning
Pacheco added that farmers and workers all they can do about it is to apply the poison that are prescribed and over again, something that would not happen if the Ministry of Agriculture join them in counseling and prevention.

In June 2010 the newspaper La Nacion reported that at least 28 women were poisoned in the cotton producing farm Caballo Blanco, located in the settlement Falconiana Bagaces in the northwestern province of Guanacaste.

Four months later, the same newspaper was public knowledge that a massive pesticide poisoning had affected 65 workers of a company producing transgenic cotton farm located in the Las Loras, St. Augustine Chomes, province of Puntarenas, on the coast of Pacific.

The Social Security Fund (CCSS) revealed that last year 146 people attended in total by "accidental poisoning by pesticide exposure," according to an official report which was seen Latinamerica. Of these, 12 died.

San Jose, the capital, a total of 15 cases, followed by Alajuela (51), Puntarenas (23) and Lemon (26), among others.
"In Costa Rica 34 years tripled the import of biocide active ingredient without their agricultural land increase," said Arroyo. "Behind it is the dismantling of traditional agriculture and crop genetic erosion in favor of the corporate monopoly of the food industry."-Latinamerica Press.






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