The SFE conducted the sampling program to verify that fresh vegetables comply with the national legislation on maximum limits of pesticide residues, and the non-presence of pesticide residues prohibited in Costa Rica, in national production, and imported ones. To do so, they relied on a risk analysis of deviations from good agricultural practices, history of analysis, presence of pesticides or active ingredients and their metabolites, sampled vegetables, consumption habits, susceptible population, residuality, origin, among others. The Agrochemical Waste Analysis Laboratory of the State Phytosanitary Service carried out the analysis, which abides by the guidelines established by the CODEX Alimentarius. For the domestically produced vegetables, they analyzed 1705 samples and for vegetables intending to import 3201, making a total of 4906 fresh vegetables samples analyzed.
Regarding the vegetables of national production, the samples that complied with the national legislation were 1297 units (76%), and 408 (24%) did not comply. The main vegetables that did not comply with the national legislation were peppers, coriander, celery, tomatoes, lettuce and strawberries. Also 1062 (62%) of the samples had residues above the limit of quantification, and 643 (37%) of those units, did not present any quantifiable pesticide residue or these residues were below the limit of quantification. The vegetables of national production were they did not find residues were, avocados, cocoa, coffee, sweet potatoes, onions, beans, lemons, corn, yams, ñampí, palm, potatoes, pineapples, bananas, cabbage, watermelons, beets, tiquizque, and yucas.
Regarding vegetables of import intention, 3151 units (98%) of the samples complied with national legislation, and 50 (2%) of them did not. The products that failed to comply with the maximum residue limits established by our country did not enter the national territory, and the main products in this category were apples, beans, grapes, and quinoa. The number of samples without pesticide residue detection or below the quantification limit were 2161 units (67%), products such as garlic, sesame, coffee, onions, plums, chickpeas, and lentils. 33% of those units presented pesticide residues above the allowed limit. It is also worth mentioning the origin of the imported vegetables that were noncompliant with the Costa Rican legislation on pesticide residues; It shows them in the following graphic:
The pesticides present more frequently in the samples were fungicides like Carbendazim, Tebuconazole, Azoxystrobin, insecticides like Imidacloprid, Deltamethrin, Cypermethrin, and the herbicide Clorprofam. The detailed lists of the pesticides found in the samples are in the 2018 report on the Analysis of Pesticide Residues in Fresh Vegetables in Costa Rica of National Production and Import Intention.
National ecologist authorities like the Costa Rican Ecological Federation (FECON) demand better controls on the importation, commercialization, use and distribution of agrochemicals. “It is unfortunate that the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock itself through its extension programs function more as sellers of poisons, promoting pesticides throughout the country and rarely discouraging their use,” FECON reported in a press release.
From this analysis we can see that more than half of the products consumed in the country are contaminated with agrochemicals, and that in both products, those of national distribution and those of import intention, even if they meet the quantities permitted by Costa Rican authorizations, also contain chemicals harmful to our health, and the environment. The Nosara community is fortunate to have organic vegetable markets and stands in some of our stores, which offer organic and agrochemical-free products. The hope is that one day organic products will be available and at affordable prices, for every community, nationally and internationally.
*featured photo sourced from thecostaricanews.com/