65% of fresh food consumed in Costa Rica contains residues of agrochemicals
Jun. 15, 2020
The Waste Control Unit of the Pesticide Department of the State Phytosanitary System in Costa Rica reported that only 35% of the analyzed food is free of pesticide residues, while 65% contain residues of some agrochemical.
In addition, the report revealed that 19.5% have pesticide residues above the regulations established at the national level in the Technical Regulation of Maximum Residue Limits of Pesticides in Vegetables and the use of prohibited pesticides (Decree No. 35301-MAG-MEIC -S).
According to this report, 5,186 samples of the vegetables and fruits were analyzed during the year 2019. Of these 3,482 samples were products to import (samples taken at customs) and 1,704 vegetables were produced in Costa Rica.
A serious situation was the presence of prohibited molecules in the country found in the fresh vegetables. For example, the Carbofuran and Omethoate prohibited under Executive Decree No. 38713-MAG-S-MINAE-MTSS. Carbofuran is a highly toxic insecticide that generates injuries to the genital organs (testicles and uterus).
Another worrying finding was the presence of Fipronil, Chlorpyrifos, Methamidophos (trade name Tamarón which is banned in the country) and Cypermethrin in bell pepper, which makes it next to coriander and celery as the fresh vegetables with the highest residue content.
Some of these agrochemicals have been questioned globally for causing damage to the cognitive development of boys and girls. One of them is Chlorpyrifos, which has been reported to affect the learning ability of minors and is prohibited in several countries for this reason.
Besides, more and more damage has been reportedly caused by Fipronil, the agrochemical responsible for the poisoning of two million bees in Esparza a few weeks ago.
Costa Rica imported a record 18.6 million tons of active agrochemical ingredients in 2018. A part is re-exported to Central America, but the vast majority is marketed in Costa Rica, earning them the fame of a country that consumes more pesticides per hectare cultivated.
Farmers face a deep economic crisis, with many of them being in debt because of the purchase of agricultural inputs, which according to the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce faces price premiums in the retail sale of agrochemicals. The MEIC has reported that many of these pesticides have price premiums of up to 50% of the import value. In other words, farmers are charged usury prices for agrochemicals.
Despite this, there is no initiative by the Executive Branch to either lower the levels of pesticide residues in food or control the distorted market for pesticides.
The original Spanish version of this report is from elpais.cr.
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