Use of Agrochemicals Impacts Bee Populations in Costa Rica!

Public Letter from the Association of Beekeepers of Costa Rica to the Presidency Office

To public opinion, in general; to the President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, and his cabinet staff in particular…

The Beekeepers Association of Costa Rica,


On October 18th and 19th, the National Bee Congress 2019 was held in San Ramón de Alajuela. This event was organized by Cinat-UNA, MAG, and INA.

The aforementioned congress evidenced the growing awareness, as well as the involvement of women and young people -with diverse professional profiles- in the area related to the protection, conservation, and reproduction of bees, in general. We estimate that, for the next 5 years, the number of people involved with bee breeding and protection will experience, approximately, 500% growth rate in Costa Rica.

In the debate on the development of stronger, stable, and more prosperous economies, the protection and improvement of human health, and the environment are becoming increasingly important. The country that does not take into account these issues compromises its sustainability.

There is an international right to protect a healthy environment, because environmental law has been internationalized in a similar way as human rights, since it has gone from being the domestic jurisdiction of the States to being an international jurisdiction.

The right to health derives from the right to life. In that sense, both the right to health and to a pollution-free environment, without which the former could not be realized, are fundamental rights. Therefore, it is the obligation of the State to provide for its protection, either through general policies to ensure that end or through specific acts by the Administration.

Constitutional Article 50 establishes that: “The State shall ensure the greatest well-being of all the inhabitants of the country, organizing and stimulating the production and the most adequate distribution of wealth. Everyone has the right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment. Changes in agriculture that have occurred since the 1980s have modified both the cultivation habits of rural inhabitants as well as generated a variety of problems.

The current paradigm of the national agro-productive system includes, within its pillars, the use of phyto-sanitary products. The number of pesticides imported between 1977 and 2006 increased by 340%. In total, the country imported 184,817 metric tons of pesticides within a 30-year term. The role of herbicides such as glyphosate and neonicotinoid insecticides that have stood out above the rest of the products stands out.

According to data from the State Phytosanitary Service (SFE), for 2017 Costa Rica carried out the ‘historical’ import of 18.6 million kilograms of active-agrochemical ingredients. (

Data held by the Regional Institute of Toxic Substances Studies (IRET) of the National University (UNA) reveal that, in our country, 18.2 kilograms of pesticides are used per hectare of agricultural crop. (

Bees are one of the most important insects in the world, not only for the growth and progress of the economic and commercial activities of society, but also for the development of plants and food through the ecosystem service of pollination.

Bees exposed to sub-lethal doses of neonicotinoid insecticides during pecoreo flights (that is, for pollen and nectar collection) are susceptible to other pathologies because their immune system is affected. In addition, they are the ones that enter these substances into the hive, contaminating their colony and other by-products.

Also, there is growing scientific evidence supporting the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate (an active ingredient used to eliminate weeds). Recent studies show that a very low glyphosate concentration (in the range of parts per billion and, therefore, environmentally relevant to all) can trigger cancer when combined with another risky factor.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the reduction of bees would cause a real food crisis. Within the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) promoted by FAO, the preservation of bees plays a fundamental role in achieving the “Zero Hunger” goal, since 84% of commercial crops depend on their pollination.


To alert the national population about the excessive and uncontrolled consumption of agrochemicals that is taking place in the country, which undermines our RIGHT TO HEALTH and to enjoy a HEALTHY AND ECOLOGICALLY BALANCED ENVIRONMENT. As well as against Objective 2 of the SDGs (acquired by Costa Rica): related to “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture”.

To urge the national population to demand the opening of spaces in student classrooms, work centers and municipalities to promote reflection and analysis on the implications of agrochemicals on human health and ecosystems. Also to analyze the importance of bees and how their decline would affect, directly or indirectly, the life of the planet including the human.

To urge the Presidency of the Republic design a NATIONAL PLAN FOR THE REDUCTION OF AGROCHEMICALS USE. The objective of such a plan will be to reduce, gradually and continuously, the availability, access, and use of agrochemicals to reduce the burden of exposure in the Costa Rican population, especially in agricultural areas and, thus, reduce the risk and harm levels to human health and ecosystems. And, simultaneously, reconvert agricultural practices from a sustained matrix in the use of agrochemicals to free-poison agriculture and of an agro-ecological nature. The plan must have, at least, the following goals:

  • Initial Goal – For 2021, to maintain or reduce the liters or its equivalent in kilograms of agrochemicals consumed nationally at the level reached in 2019. The first goal is to prevent the use of agrochemicals in 2 years from increasing in 2 years the country.
  • Second Goal – To decrease by 30% the volume in liters, or its equivalent in kilos of agrochemicals used in the country, for the end of the 2024-2025 season (by April 2025), that is, within 5 years on.
  • Third Goal – To decrease, with respect to the agrochemicals used in 2025, by 50% after 5 years (that is, between 2025 and 2030).

To urge the Government of the Republic to be constantly informing the national population about the progress and compliance with the National Agrochemical Reduction Plan, as well as the threats that the correct application of the aforementioned plan might face.

San Ramón, October 20th, 2019.

Beekeepers Association of Costa Rica.

SOURCEAsociación Apicultores de Costa Rica
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