The immediate establishment of a moratorium on the expansion of pineapple plantations has been applied for by the Costa Rican environmental organisation, Cedarena.
This call was made before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington, United States last month. Cedarena is demanding that until an independent analysis of the impact of the use of agrochemicals in the pineapple industry on public health is published, the expansion of land under pineapple production should be curbed. The hearing took place in the regular session of the Commission 154 and was a call for dialogue, not a judgment against the Government. In these cases, the recommendations made are non-binding.
The petitioners attended the Commission specifically to push for a solution to water pollution with chemicals that, since 2007, has prevented 1,140 people from Siquirres, Limón, access to the aquifer. Since then, residents receive water every other day by tanker trucks. This "temporary measure" has cost Costa Rica’s Water Ministry about $904,000. The problem has not been solved despite a mandate from the Constitutional Court in 2009. The plaintiffs say they feel "unprotected and marginalized," and that the state has failed in its duty to ensure access to water, which has generated conflicts between communities. They also claim that the Government has been "somewhat tolerant" of the pineapple lobby.
In response CANAPEP, the Costa Rican pineapple industry body has claimed that water pollution problems have been “overstated”.
Since July 2007 more than 6000 people in rural communities have had water supplied by tankers due to water pollution.
Research carried out by Universities in Costa Rica (Programa del Estado de la Nación) has highlighted the environmental damage caused by intensive pineapple production in Costa Rica and the negative impact on human health. Key concerns are:
- Water contamination, including that of drinking water.
- Sedimentation of rivers.
- Plagues of the fly Stomoxys calcitrans.
- Soil erosion.
- The displacement of rural families.
- Lack of respect for labour rights and possible consequences for human health due to exposure to pesticides.
The report also highlighted how the environmental degradation caused by intensive pineapple production causes serious damage to the social stability of the affected communities.
Research published in Sweden in 2013 found that the ongoing use of pesticides on the pineapple plantations of Costa Rica has a direct impact on workers and their environment, “The employees on the pineapple plantations in Costa Rica, and the local communities, suffer from dizziness, headaches, nausea and rashes. The chemicals have also adversely affected the environment and caused a decrease of fish and animal life in the area”
Some of the agrochemicals in use in Costa Rica, such as Paraquat, have been banned by the EU because they are highly toxic and damaging to human health and yet they continue to be authorized for use on pineapple plantations in Costa Rica by the Costa Rican authorities.
Sources: freshfruitportal.com, "Toxic pesticides on Costa Ricas plantations" pub. 2013, Sweden, "La pina de Costa Rica ante la Comision Interamericana de Derechos Humanos" Nicolas Boeglin pub. March 18, 2015, El Pais.cr