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The Dirty Dozen

Costa Rica is a fabulous place, but there are many environmental problems that are having a catastrophic effect on the wildlife here. Following my blog, you will have seen some of the amazing creatures that live here. However, whether a frog or a sloth, the health of many creatures is being seriously compromised by the direct actions of  humans.

Here in the Caribbean lowlands it makes my heart sink when I see the low-flying, crop-spraying, light aircraft that come over. This area is where all the banana and pineapple plantation are, and they stretch for miles. The fruit is grown in blue plastic bags (pictured) to partially protect them from the massive levels of extremely hazardous pesticides sprayed overhead. Some of these pesticides, collectively known as ‘The Dirty Dozen’, cause many human deaths and widespread environmental damage every year. These have been completely banned in other countries, such as the US and Europe (Where the multi-national companies responsible are based), yet the Dirty Dozen are still widely used in many developing countries, including Costa Rica. It sickens me to the core.

When these planes and helicopters come over, which is frequent, they spray everything, including you if you are outside. The sticky, acutely toxic, pesticides they use is extremely difficult to even get off your car windscreen. Imagine what effects is has on you if you were a frog sat on a leaf if you absorb things directly through your skin, as all amphibians do – or a sloth that is eating that leaf. The people who work for the company are even accommodated in the centre of the growing, and sprayed areas. The lack of protective equipment, safety training, and medical services makes the impact on the people in these areas even more devastating.

One of the ex-workers for one such company tells me of mass deformities and deaths of animals, and the fact that many workers become very ill or quickly sterile. It’s a terrible situation, and one that doesn’t just affect the areas where the spraying takes place. The acutely toxic pesticides used, that are notable in their longevity and toxicity to humans and animals,  are also known for their ability to be transported through the atmosphere. Not just by wind drift, but by literally being taken up into the clouds and rained down in other areas. In Costa Rica, traces of the hugely dangerous pesticides used in the Caribbean lowlands have been found in the highlands, such as at Monteverde. No wonder the frogs are becoming extinct there!

Next time you buy perfect looking bananas from the supermarket perhaps spare a thought of what it has cost to produce them that way.

For more information on this devastating problem and to find out what you can do to help please see: Pesticide Action Network

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