An online petition signed by 51,926 people from around the world asks the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica to approve the File 23783 bill on the regulation of highly hazardous pesticides and the Executive Branch to “implement the eight recommendations of the Chlorothalonil Technical Report,” which includes its ban on agrovenoms.
According to the request, the agrochemical is banned in 32 countries “but instead of taking it off the market, European companies like Syngenta only sell it in countries in the global south like Costa Rica.”
The request is embodied in Isabel Méndez, a neighbor and leader in the defense of water in Cipreses de Oreamuno de Cartago, a small town in Costa Rica whose water is contaminated with degraded molecules of the carcinogenic pesticide chlorothalonil. Isabel, like other residents of the area, are being affected and continue to receive water from a tanker for almost a year. However, it must be remembered that the first analyzes that showed the presence of chlorothalonil derivatives were at the end of 2021 (Contamination with agrochemicals is confirmed in the water of Cipreses Cartago (ucr.ac.cr)).
Not feel the pressure
Although it is unknown how long the water has been contaminated, the signed letter states that “For 9 years, several women from Cipreses and I (Isabel) have been fighting for it to be banned, and now we are finally achieving what so many times seemed impossible to us”: The constitutional chamber of Costa Rica has given the Executive Branch six months to ban chlorothalonil!” However, the thousands of signatories assure that “the government could delay the ban if they do not feel pressure.”
Continuous dangers to health
They have been difficult years in Cipreses as Isabel says: “in addition to not having enough water, my daughter Fiorella had polyps at 16 and now she has lost her sense of smell and taste. My neighbor has tongue cancer, and several young people have been diagnosed with stomach cancer. It is not normal to have so much disease in such a small town, and since laboratory tests confirmed that the water is contaminated, the government has told us that we should not drink tap water.”
Furthermore, as is increasingly common in the Latin American region, environmental defenders claim that: “there are local groups that, with the support of the agrochemical industry, have harassed, intimidated and threatened us with death for our activism.”
That does not scare Isabel or her group Frente Eco Cipreses because she insists that “we continue fighting because the problem goes beyond Cipreses: we already know that there are other contaminated springs, in areas where 80% of the vegetables consumed by the population are grown. from Costa Rica, and it is likely that there are many more. “We cannot continue to let Syngenta use Latin American and African countries as chemical dumps to dump products that by law they can no longer sell in Europe.”
This year it was reported that a neighboring community of Santa Rosa de Oreamuno also has its springs contaminated with derivatives of the same poison, affecting thousands of people (Kioscos UCR, 3-24-23). The most serious thing that, according to a Report from the Ministries of Health, Environment and AyA, was key for the Constitutional Chamber to request the ban on chlorothalonil last June in the neighboring areas of Cartago. There were around 65,000 people dependent on water supplies under “the same conditions”, with agriculture so close to water sources that it was “affecting water quality” and generating “a very high probability of contamination from the use of the chemical products“.
The petition is promoted by the Ekō organization, a community made up of more than 22 million people from around the world: “committed to the task of stopping the growing power of corporations. “We want companies, of which we are buyers, workers and investors, to respect the environment and democracy, and treat their employees well.”
More information with:Isabel Mendes de EcoCipreses +506 7181 8078