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Friday, January 29th, 2016  |  USD: Buy 531.29 / Sell 543.92
20 years

Costa Rica is the most voracious consumer of pesticides in the world | World Environment Day

June 5th, 2015 ( World Environment Day, established by the United Nations, is marked every year on June 5th.  And, while Costa Rica has indeed taken remarkable efforts to protect its natural environment, today is a good day to look at where improvement still needs to be made.


One of the most striking examples – and one of the most contradictory to the country’s eco-friendly image – is Costa Rica’s voracious appetite for pesticides and agrochemicals.


In fact, the country known internationally as one of the world’s most eco-friendly countries leads the entire world in the amount of pesticides used per hectare of agricultural crops.


Costa Rica currently employs a staggering 18.2 kilograms of pesticides per hectare, according to the latest data from the National University (UNA).  That’s even more than China at 17 kilos per hectare, the second largest user of pesticides per hectare.  Compare this to the United States, where about 2.5 kilos per hectare are used.


Worse still, many of the pesticides used in the country have been proven dangerous to human health and have been banned in many other countries, such as endosulfan.


Pesticides and other toxic substances of synthetic origin used in agriculture are associated with multiple health problems, including cancer, sterility, fetal deformities, allergies, acute poisoning and even death.


They have also been causing pollution of watersheds and aquifers.


Just one of many examples are the communities of El Milano and El Cairo in Siquirres, Limon who have been receiving their drinking water delivered by cistern trucks since 2007 due to ongoing contamination of their water supply with the herbicide Bromacil, used on nearby pineapple plantations.


While significantly more progress needs to be made, the country has made strides in recent years in reducing its pesticide use.  In the year 2000, the country used an astonishing 51.2 kilograms per hectare while #2 Colombia used 16.7 kilograms during that same year, according to the World Resources Institute.


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  • richard schlinder

    For those of you who use Mirex to control ant hills ,myTica showed me another way. Spread used coffee grounds over the nest.The ants just disappear.I’ve tried it and it works and the grass loves it.

  • Fernando Gerdano

    Costa Rica has one of the highest rates of stomach cancer in the world. There are almost no real certified organic farms in CR. Enjoy those fruits and veggies..

  • disgsted

    Is it true the pineapples here are soaked in pesticides?? In Houston, TX they sell Cost Rica pineapples for 99 cents. Hawaii I guess does not grow enough any more and this place is one of the largest producers.

    A comment on stomach cancer. They did studies why here and Japan they wonder if it is not the soil and the volcanic ash as a common link. Also when Guanacaste water in some areas are high in arsenic and the solution was a rusty nails in a blue keg filled with a clay as filtering it for the locals. You notice how that story and solution gets buried and what happen to the banana workers.

    • // Timothy Williams
      • disgsted

        Timothy, I did not mean the news media ICR. I should have more clear. I meant to say I haven’t heard anything from the government in finding the source of the arsenic that is in the water supply other than the band aid of the blue barrel filtering homes water. . . And or how they the banana plantations changing their ways in pesticides. I may have missed a few weeks and the articles.

        • // Timothy Williams

          No worries, we published those stories almost two years ago; and I understood you didn’t mean ICR at any rate. I was just pointing out the fact that we covered it and provided links in reply to your comment for the hundreds or thousands of others that will read your comment above and have no idea what you are referring to with the “rusty nail barrels” comment as it is that incredible. Only about one in every 5,000 readers of an article on ICR ever leave a comment, but I’m pretty sure they read them so I wanted to provide the links for those who would wonder what you’re talking about. :)

        • toolman78

          As to the source, it’s very well possible that is naturally occurring in the ground water. there are lots of places in the world where the natural levels exceed EPA recommendations.

    • Tomas Zebulnski

      Round-up provokes stomach cancer and Parkinson’s, two prevalent diseases in CR.

  • Ken Morris

    I knew this, but it’s nice to see it reported again. It kind of makes you wonder about the anti-GMO outrcry, doesn’t it? Yeah right, we won’t have GMOs but will instead just spray poison over everything. The selective perception of so-called environmentalists is amazing. I mean, save the turtles but don’t pause long enough to smell the sewage in the rivers. Go for it Paul Watson.

    • expatin paradise

      Also, in probably every one of the “GMO-free” cantones, there are papayas that were grown from Hawaiian seed. Hawaiian papayas are almost all GMOs because they were one of the first crops modified, modified to fight a fungal infection that would have almost certainly destroyed the industry. As far as I know, there is nothing harmful about the modification, but the existence of such GMOs in proximity to non-GMOs inevitably results in cross-pollination and modifications being introduced into the “natural” crops. This has been a big part of the problem in the US – the “natural” or bred form of crops such as con, soy, and cotton have all been contaminated. Add to the other problems with GMOs that those developed by Monsanto were developed to tolerate/require megadoses of glyphosate (round-up). This one herbicide is being linked to a multitude of health problems including the cancers suffered in disproportionately high numbers among agricultural workers in CR who handle crops that use high amounts of this vile toxin. Of course, herbicides also kill host “weeds”, such as the milkweed, which is needed by the monarch butterflies, whose numbers are plummeting.There are probably bird populations that are likewise falling because they feed on monarchs. When will the world recognize that everything is interconnected, and the introduction of any new product or species can be devastating?

      Thanks for the shout out for Paul Watson. I’d lie to see a petition drive for the president to pardon Paul Watson and invite him to CR tor the country to benefit from his vast expertise. As far as I’m concerned, his folks should be deputized as an auxiliary to the coast guard.

      Sewage is one of the biggest problems here – not just that which is dumped directly into rivers, but also that which enters via drainage ditches after dogs and scavengers have opened garbage bags and dumped feces-covered toilet paper into drainage ditches. I’m surprised that we do not see outbreaks of typhus and cholera here. We need a modern treatment system and steps to ensure that everyone id connected to it unless they have septic systems.

  • John Dungan

    Worse, another serious abuse is the use of herbicide by ICE, whose employees pour and spray them left and right to try to keep back some of the plant life that grows anywhere near their power lines. And, given the proliferation of all insect life, it is next to impossible to grow anything without a lot of insecticides.

    • expatin paradise

      Agreed – I saw a guy in a drainage ditch the other day directly spraying an herbicide instead of using the machetes or machines generally used for this purpose. If you’ve never read the precautions on a bottle of Round-up, they clearly state that the stuff is not to be used where it can get into waterways. As to insecticides and other pesticides, there are plant-based ones known, and probably many to be discovered, that cound be used instead of the ones being used now.

  • Heather Lane

    Wash all your fruits and veggies really well with a white vinegar/water solution and buy organic and hydroponic when possible.

  • mhogan

    Costa Rica — the land of hypocrisy. A bunch of buffoons pretending to know what they are doing.

    • expatin paradise

      Pretty much like the rest of the governments of the planet. Look at all the clowns in DC!

      • Gavin Drewry

        not with Trump in office, the only clown in office now is Senator Clinton.

  • expatin paradise

    The numbers reported here, if accurate, are actually good news. Sure, CR s still #1, but the World resources Institute’s most current numbers (for the year 2000) are vastly different, with CR using 51.2kg/ha. Second place was Colombia at 16.7kg/ha, a third the amount used by CR. Of course, when we discuss “pesticides” as a group. we’re including relatively mild products that break down relatively quickly with highly toxic products that contaminate the environment essentially permanently. I hope that subsequent studies separate the “apples” from the “oranges.”

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