Toxic pineapples, precarious work, and abused communities

A silent genocide

Pineapple farming in Costa Rica must be regulated, both its use of toxic agrochemicals and to prevent forms of labor exploitation of its mostly migrant workers and their families.

Frank Ulloa

06 | 09 | 2022

Photo: Gerardo Iglesias

Agribusiness workers are not only paid low wages and denied union rights; they are being silently exterminated, and it is ultimately the state that has to take on their care in the public health system.

Government authorities have an ethical obligation to disclose information considered relevant for the protection of the health of their citizens, but labor organizations cannot remain silent, even though these environmental issues are often not their priority.

The unchecked expansion of pineapple crops has catastrophic consequences for human life.

The Environmental Contamination Research Center (CICA) of the University of Costa Rica has reported on the seriousness of this situation.

As early as 2015 there was evidence that in many communities the water was polluted, but the public was not informed about this until June 14, 2018.

The issue has now become more complicated, as multinational corporations block access to pineapple plantations, invoking their sacred right to private property, which they place above the right to life..

Many of these companies are certified. The courts can act ex officio, but choose not to. And everyone turns a blind eye..

It is no secret that many of the 32 sampling points are contaminated with herbicides such as Bromacil, Ametryn, Diuron, and Hexazinone, and fungicides such as Metalaxyl and Carbendazim.

Some of these sites are sources of drinking water for the San Carlos communities of Pital, Agua Zarcas, and Venecia, and the Río Cuarto canton.

We at Rel UITA (IUF Latin America) and FENTRAGH must redouble our efforts to combat the continued use of products banned in the country, the indiscriminate use of toxic agrochemicals, and the hypocrisy of multinational corporations.