September 3rd, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Costa Rica’s Supreme Court (Sala IV) has accepted a petition of unconstitutionality against agricultural burning in Costa Rica and given the Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Environment fifteen days to rule on the merits of the allegations.
The petition, filed by La Asociación Confraternidad Guanacasteca and Air Limpio Vida Sana of the Canton of Grecia questions the legality of burning as they consider it to be contrary to the Constitution and a long list of laws and international conventions that protect public health and the environment.
The Constitutional Court in 2002 ordered development of a plan to solve these issues, giving ten months ‘under penalty of disobedience’ for planning and implementation. More than ten years later, government authorities have yet to take any action to end the practice.
“Already there are many countries that prohibit burning and Costa Rica, a world leader in environmental issues, is lagging in this respect,” said Carolina Rugeles, agricultural engineer and creator of the Aire Limpio Vida Sana group. “Now, there is an opportunity to put another concrete basis in national law.”
“In agriculture the old method of pre-harvest cane firing is not consistent with current ecological philosophy,” she added. “Resultant pollution conflicts with the country’s plan to be carbon neutral by 2021 and causes enormous damage to the health of the population and biodiversity. The contamination accelerates the accumulation of greenhouse gases, thus increasing the rate of climate change and global warming.”
Gadi Amit, a founder of La Asociación Confraternidad Guanacasteca, said that modernization is required especially in regard to cutting sugar cane ‘green’ and with mechanization to avoid more deaths of cane cutters from cell and kidney damage and the disproportionate increase in asthma cases.