COSTA Ricans may be eating excessiveamounts of pesticides on their vegetables,the Comptroller General’s Officerecently warned.In a report completed last month, theoffice said vegetables such as cucumbers,celery, cilantro, tomatoes, bell peppersand others grown in Costa Rica are coatedin chemical residues that exceed maximumestablished limits, the daily LaNación reported.For example, in a celery sample,investigators discovered the residue ofseven different pesticides, six of whichwere in higher concentration than what ispermitted. Among them, there were 66milligrams of the fungicide Clorotalonilper kilogram of celery, though the limitfor human consumption is less than 15milligrams.What’s worse, the Ministry ofAgriculture (MAG) doesn’t confiscatevegetables that bear unacceptably highconcentrations of chemicals, the reportstates, nor does it take measures to solvethe problem. MAG does little to steminfringements of pesticide application –such as the use of banned chemicals orthe use of a pesticide designed for certaincrops on other crops for which they werenot intended. Even when the chemicalcould be harmful to agriculture, humanhealth or the environment, MAG doesn’talways confiscate the product, the reportconcludes.Agriculture Minister Rodolfo Cotorefuted the findings, saying theComptroller’s Office doesn’t have theprofessionals necessary to make such specificstatements. He also said the ministryis hindered by a lack of funds and can’tafford more inspectors.The comptroller’s report is the resultof an investigation carried out 2000-2003,released Jan. 14 this year.The high usage of chemicals warningis not limited to the Comptroller’s Office.The 10th State of the Nation reportranked Costa Rica’s rate of chemical useamong the highest in Central America,and said many of the chemicals used hereare outlawed or restricted in other countries.The Ministry of Public Healthreported 676 acute poisonings by agriculturalchemicals in 2003, and estimatedthat 82%-98% of poisonings by agriculturalchemicals go unreported inCosta Rica.
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