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Costa Ricans Consume 3 Kilograms of Agrochemicals Per Year        

By Oriana Ortiz Vindas for elpais.cr

Photo by Carlos Salazar

Costa Rica is currently one of the countries that uses large amounts of chemicals in its agricultural production, even using chemicals that are banned in other countries since they pose serious health risks.

In 2010 the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) Phytosanitary Service reported that 14.000.000 million kilograms of active agrochemical ingredients were used in the country, which is equivalent to a 3 kilogram consumption per person per year.

Approximately 400 different chemicals are currently used in the country.

El País.cr spoke with Fernando Ramírez, member of the National University’s (UNA) Instituto Regional de Estudios en Sustancias Tóxicas (Regional Institute for Toxic Substance Studies - IRET), who commented on the alarming situation Costa Rica faces in this regard.

EP: Which agrochemicals are most commonly used in Costa Rica?

FR: One of the most commonly used chemicals is Macozeb. It is widely used on banana plants on a weekly basis. This product produces long-term toxic effects and chronic diseases.

Organophosphates and fungicides, such as paraquat and endosulfan, are still commonly used in Costa Rica, although many countries have banned their use due to their health and environmental effects. These extremely toxic chemicals are easily carried by water, wind and currents, and can accumulate in human and animal fatty tissue. They can also be transmitted through breast milk.

EP: What are some specific examples of pollution caused by these chemicals?

FR: For example, Bromacil, a pesticide used on pineapple plants, causes water pollution. Researchers have found that after applying this product to plantations in the Atlantic region for 2 to 3 years, it has led to groundwater contamination, which is used as drinking water. Due to the damage caused to water sources in Cairo, just to name one town in the area, tanker trucks must transport drinking water.
Studies conducted by IRET have shown that every 3 months, when heavy rains fall in the region most nematicides, which are used 3 to 4 times per year on several crops such as banana plants, are dragged superficially all the way to the Tortuguero channels, which are deeply affected.

EP: What is the reason for the lack of control it the use of agrochemicals in Costa Rica?

FR: The use of so many chemicals is due to the lack of regulation; there are many laws that protect pesticide producer and marketing companies in order to increase their profits.

This issue has caused great economic and political pressures; the government must do something now. We cannot take a chance on this matter; just to mention one case, Methomyl causes 50 deaths per year and it is the leading cause of poisoning in the country.

EP: What information sources can farmers consult for more information on this topic and to improve their use of chemicals?

FR: There is a wealth of knowledge and information that has been produced by universities but many times it is not accessible to farmers.

Farmers may consult universities and other schools, such as the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje (National Training Institute – INA), through their outreach programs, as well as attending free courses in agroecological farming practices and organic fertilizers (how to replace and prepare them and their repellent and regulating effects).

In addition, the IRET has issued several publications on methyl bromide, endosulfan and paraquat, among others.

More Regional News

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TSE Pays Thousands of Dollars in Rent While Still Owing Rent to Municipality

Starting this year, the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (TSE- Electoral Supreme Court) will pay 1,332,000 colones ($2,664) per month in rent for the offices of the regional branch in Nicoya.

Taxes on “luxury” homes skyrocket up to 10x after readjustment of property values

A readjustment to construction values, made by the Ministry of Hacienda (Tax department), caused the taxes on “luxury homes,” (homes valued at about $234,000 USD and above) to increase between 57%-160% for this year, depending on the type of home.

Chamber of Hotels Parts Ways from CANATUR

The Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels (CCH) separated from the National Chamber of Tourism, CANATUR, for differences regarding the internal organization and after finding out about the poor financial management of the administration.

Lack of Fire Hydrants Causes Problems for Firefighters

“To put out a fire I draw water from the river, the sea, a pool or the well of a friend or neighbor. Here there are no hydrants”, explained Jo Pinheiro, describing the dramatic situation the Nosara firefighters go through when they need water to extinguish fires.

Technical Closure of Nicoyan Cemetery Begins

They finally demolished the boundary wall of the current municipal cemetery, thus initiating the long awaited technical closure.

Caja Intervenes at Nicoya Hospital for Administrative Mismanagement

The Board of Directors of the Costa Rican Social Security System (CCSS or Caja) decided to intervene starting December 27 at Nicoya’s Hospital de La Anexión for administrative mismanagement that has developed. Therefore there will be a transfer of the medical and financial directors to other venues in order to establish another work team for a year or more, according to the needs of the institution.

New Regulations for Liquor Licenses Should Be In Place By Late January

The Municipality of Nicoya is in the process of applying the new regulation for the commercialization of licenses for alcoholic beverages.

Ticos in the United States: Living the American Dream Has Its Price

We walk from the train station toward a Guatemalan restaurant where we decide to have breakfast. It’s 11 a.m. on a summer day in August, a little late to be eating the first meal of the day, but Sandra, Miguel and Robert requested the day off of work to be with us, and they decided that before opening the doors to their private life, we should get to know each other briefly.

Pictures and News of the Month

The Voice of Nosara brings you a brief recap of December stories you might have missed.

Requesting Permission to Build Will Only Take 30 Days

In general, those who have taken the steps to build a house have had to exercise patience since the process of obtaining all the permits has taken from several months to a year or more in some cases.

Nicoyans Speak Out Against Planting Transgenic Corn in Guanacaste

Guanacaste cantons, like Abangares and Nicoya, are fighting to remain free of transgenic corn now that the company Delta and Pine is looking to plant modified international Monsanto seeds in the canton of Abangares. The controversy will be delayed until the end of February since the State National Biosecurity Commission requested more information about the product.

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