COSTA RICA - OPINION

What happens to the bees, happens to us all

By: Natalia López, an enthusiastic curious being, amongst other things

Last February the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed to the world that neonicotinoid pesticides affect the nervous system of bees and other pollinators causing their global diminishment. The confirmation led the European Union (EU) to ban the use of neonicotinoids outdoors: Imidacloprid, Thiamethoxam and Clothianidin considering them of high risk. This issue is serious and the first thing that we thought of was agriculture and the tragedy of no longer having the pollination services that the bees and certain birds provide. Perhaps it's time for some forward thinking. 

In Costa Rica some organizations have accepted this world-wide alert and have called out to government authorities to apply the precautionary principle and to prohibit said pesticides. According to the records of the State Phytosanitary Service, the prohibited pesticides in the EU: Imidacloprid and Thiamethoxam, are used in the country in monocultures of rice, banana, coffee, courgette, sugar cane, bell pepper, citrus, melon, orange, potato, papaya, cucumber, pineapple, plantain, sage, watermelon, tomato, verbena , cassava, chayote and pineapple. As well as with other monocultures like Kikuyu grass, hairy grass, cotton, roses and ornamental plants. These products not only use neonicotinoids to the detriment of bees and pollinators, but have been undermining biotic communities in one of the 25 most biodiverse countries on the planet. The intensive use of agrochemicals has eroded soils, contaminated rivers and groundwater and destroyed ecosystems in forests, wetlands and lagoons. Take pineapple farming, which in 15 years swept away 5,566 hectares of the jungle, polluted springs and aqueducts with Bromacil and Diazinon, and condemned populations to drink from water trucks. Take a walk through Milano, Cairo, La Francia and Luisiana, Siquirres in the province of Limón or go further north to Veracruz, Pital de San Carlos, in the province of Alajuela. On top of this environmental disaster are the social and economic repercussions: labor exploitation; communities exposed to illness caused by potentially carcinogenic pesticides and herbicides; reduction of small-scale agricultural frontiers, the subsequent forced migration, poverty and the extinction of plant varieties.

AH Fungal Mycelium Hyphae 7893

It is about seing the whole..  of being connected, like the mycelium or mycorrhizae 

In a country the largest consumer of agrochemicals in the world according to the World Resource Institute in the United States, owner of the longest list of approved agrochemicals in the world, and where an average of 18 kilograms of agrochemicals are used per hectare per year according to the Regional Institute for the Study of Toxic Substances (IRET) in Costa Rica, the plea to apply the precautionary principle and prohibit neonicotinoids, is more urgent than ever.

Calling to action the appropriate authorities is one possibility, yet there are other methods available to us as consumers and as conscious individuals. We must start with the fact that we are involved, that we are part of a greater and interconnected whole. What happens to the bees, happens to us; what happens to the forests happens to us; what happens to those in Milano in Siquirres happens to us. This is simply because we are part of the biotic community that is slowly being destroyed, within which sooner or later we will be affected. Our decisions regarding what we purchase can gradually revert the agricultural systems that are destroying biodiversity. Let's start - to the extent possible - by purchasing food produced under good production methods that preserve rather than destroy. Let's promote at the community level, the creation of markets for the commercialization of agroecological products and support their promotion in order to increase their volume and reduce the high prices at which these products are offered today. And why not take the open spaces to grow food, promoting the creation of urban gardens, like the case of Argentina in South America. Let's propose, as a civil society, that agroecology be declared of public interest. In Costa Rica monocultures are causing serious social, economic and environmental damage. This forces us to look for comprehensive solutions, such as rotation with agroecological or silvopastoral production systems that allow the conservation of resources, have performance greater than or equal to conventional crops, dispense of the use of toxic inputs derived from petroleum; produce more varieties per hectare without ruining ecosystems, or biodiversity; preserve minerals and nutrients present in food and, as if that all weren't enough, maintain the beauty of the landscape, sustain the food culture of the people, promote employment in rural areas and create resilience to the effects of climate change.

Let's apply the precautionary principle and the prohibition of the use of neonicotinoids in Costa Rica; and yes, let's participate in a rotation towards a virtuous agriculture that produces clean, nutritious food; conserves the commons, protects ecosystems, boosts rural economies and is good for society and its people.

 translated by Jesse Trace 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Cooperativas Sin Fronteras.

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