You may reconsider buying bananas, pineapples and coffee from Costa Rica.
According to data from the Regional Institute for Studies in Toxic Substances (IRET), Costa Rica uses more agrochemicals per hectare than any other country worldwide. On average, a staggering 18.2 kilograms are applied per hectare in Costa Rica.
Seminario Universidad writes, “The data not only uncovers the contradiction of the image projected by the country of green and leader in environmental protection, but also the lack of control in the use of agrochemicals, many of them associated with risks of environmental pollution and damages to health.”
Costa Rica even surpasses China, which averages 17 kilograms per hectare. The United States is much further down the list, at 2 kilograms per hectare. Costa Rica’s largest exports include bananas, pineapples, coffee, sugar and rice.
As reported by the Tico Times, “Since 1977, Costa Rica has imported more than 185,000 metric tons of agrochemicals. In that same time period, the country’s consumption of these substances has more than tripled.”
The use of pesticides has been linked to cancer, infertility, birth defects, allergies, acute poisonings and death. This is especially of concern, considering pesticides persist in the atmosphere and pollute the air, soil and water.
Information collected by the Costa Rica’s Social Security System (Caja) showed that in 2010, 146 people were admitted to public hospitals because of agrochemical poisoning. In 12 of these cases, the poisoning was fatal. A recent report by the U.N. attributed 200,000 deaths annually to agrochemical poisoning.
Agrochemicals are a sad reality of modern life. People eat fruits and vegetables, and feed their children these products, because plant-based foods are known to be healthy. Even washing these foods isn’t sufficient, because often the chemicals are present throughout the entire product.
Pesticides are not necessary for high crop yields, and end up being extremely detrimental to the environment and human health. These chemicals can persist in the environment and human body for long periods of time, producing toxic effects.
Thankfully, within recent years, awareness has grown exponentially regarding the dangers of these chemicals. However, most likely big agricultural companies and chemical producers will continue to downplay and disregard these risks, in favor of profits.
When possible, always purchase local and organic produce. This encourages eating food that is appropriate for the season, which is biologically more beneficial. Furthermore, this cuts down on the carbon emissions caused by transportation and storage of these food products.
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