In a petition addressed to President Carlos Alvarado and to heads of Agriculture, Health and Environment, the Costa Rican Beekeepers Association requests the prohibition of the powerful insecticide Fipronil, because, if not, the poisoning death rate registered during the last twelve months in Costa Rica will continues and by the year 2035 all the bees would have disappeared in our country”.
With that clarity, the National Chamber for the Promotion of Beekeeping denounced the reality of the use of the dangerous insecticide Fipronil in crops in the country. In the petition sent to President Alvarado, requesting the prohibition of this poison, the Chamber also pointed out that between 2010 and 2020 2,200 hives were lost in the Los Santos Zone alone. In fact, last year there were approximately 30 massive bee poisoning events, each of which cost the lives of about three million insects. In other words, an average of 250 thousand bees per day died from agrochemical poisoning.
Juan Bautista Alvarado, President of the Chamber, explained that these numbers come from the monitoring carried out by the beekeepers themselves in the Los Santos area and, regarding the extermination that they announce at the national level, explained that they are numbers prepared by the Chamber itself from the reports of its associates.
He also observed that when it comes to these hive poisoning events, “there is a lot of mistrust on the part of beekeepers in both the administrative and judicial systems, so there are many people who have not reported.” However, he explained that last year ten such events were reported to the National Animal Health Service (Senasa).
That institution took samples of dead bees, analyzed them in the laboratory and of the ten samplings, in nine, Fipronil venom was determined as the only cause of death of the bees. As he recalled, in the remaining case it was not possible to determine specifically that it was the culprit, but neither was it excluded as a cause. “So the massacre that we are experiencing in the country is of these dimensions,” he denounced.
The petition, which on April 7th also reached the hands of the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Renato Alvarado; the Chief of Health, Daniel Salas and the Minister of Environment and Energy, Andrea Meza, in reality what they are is asking is a commitment assumed by the current administration and be made concrete.
“We are giving the government all the explanation,” said the beekeeper, as the letter contains enough legal arguments to be the basis for a decree. “We had been told by Carlos Alvarado’s environmental advisers that the government was going to ban Fipronil at the beginning of the year, but when Easter arrived and went, we considered it necessary to send the request to tell the government what has to be done”.
The letter recalls the right to “a healthy and ecologically balanced environment” enshrined in Article 50 of the Constitution, as well as Costa Rica’s membership of a series of international treaties on the control of dangerous substances and agrochemicals.
The reality of bees and the environment
Regarding the reality of bees, the Chamber reminded the heads of the current administration that the ecological function of pollination carried out by bees is of central importance, since “if the plant-pollinator interaction is broken, hundreds of fruits, vegetables and legumes that are part of the current nutritional chain could not be harvested ”.
They seriously denounce that in Costa Rica Fipronil has been used since 1995 and is currently present in many commercial presentations for different groups of pests and crops. The National Chamber for the Promotion of Beekeeping also cites various scientific studies, according to which it is an insecticide that, in addition to its special impact on bees, also affects fish and birds. At the same time it is considered systemic, that is, it moves to the different tissues of plants, nectar and pollen.
It should be remembered that the danger that agrochemicals known as Neonicotinoids pose to bees has been widely reported. In this sense, the beekeeper Alvarado explained that fipronil is considered lethal, that is, it “kills at once”; while neonicotinoids are sublethal, they “slowly kill”.
On the other hand, as President of the Beekeeping Chamber, he indicated that “there needs to be a higher level of coordination between the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture, so they don’t overrule each other.