Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Buy Organic Bananas, Save Crocodiles

Food
Buy Organic Bananas, Save Crocodiles

Chemicals sprayed on bananas to control pests and disease are making their way into the bodies of the emaciated crocodiles who live near banana plantations in Costa Rica, says a new study that illustrates the environmental impact of pesticide use—and gives another reason to buy organic foods, even those with inedible peels.

Crocodiles who live near Costa Rican banana plantations are sickly, and researchers suspect pesticides are either directly responsible or impacting the crocs' environment enough—by killing off or reducing their food supply—to make them ill.

As part of the conservation strategy for the species in Colombia, the Cayman crocodrilus is raised in commercial farms. Photo credit: waza.org

"The animals are very, very thin—about 50 percent thinner than those away from the plantations," said study co-author Peter Ross, an aquatic ecotoxicologist and associate professor at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, in a National Geographic story. The study found that crocodiles that live closest to the plantations had the highest concentration of pesticides in their body, and those that live further away had less.

Costa Rica is a prime location for banana production and as a key export, bananas play an important role in the nation's economy. In 2011, Costa Rica exported 2 million tons of bananas, valued at more than $700 million.

Demand for the fruit is increasing, and so is pesticide use.

Bananas, which lack the genetic diversity to fight off pests, receive some of the heaviest doses of any crop in the world. In the last two decades, pesticide use in Central America has doubled, and Costa Rica ranks second in the world for intensity of pesticide use. 

Lack of infrastructure and enforcement regulating the use of these chemicals have contributed to environmental contamination in Costa Rica. The country's frequent heavy rains wash the pesticides from areas such as banana plantations into nearby waterways.

The crocodiles studied in the research are spectacled caiman, fish-eating crocodilians that inhabit freshwater habitats in tropical regions of the Americas. The authors say their results indicate that pesticide use in banana plantations is impacting a high-in-the-food-chain species inhabiting one of the most important wilderness areas in Costa Rica.

The fact that caiman are being impacted indicates other aquatic organisms are going to be affected as well, said Paul Grant, the study's lead author. "There’s fairly strong evidence that pesticides, whether it's indirect or directly, are eroding caiman habitat."

The study was published in the November issue of the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

 

A dugong, also called a sea cow, swims with golden pilot jacks near Marsa Alam, Egypt, Red Sea. Alexis Rosenfeld / Getty Images

In 2010, world leaders agreed to 20 targets to protect Earth's biodiversity over the next decade. By 2020, none of them had been met. Now, the question is whether the world can do any better once new targets are set during the meeting of the UN Convention on Biodiversity in Kunming, China later this year.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

President Joe Biden signs executive orders in the State Dining Room at the White House on Jan. 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images

By Andrew Rosenberg

The first 24 hours of the administration of President Joe Biden were filled not only with ceremony, but also with real action. Executive orders and other directives were quickly signed. More actions have followed. All consequential. Many provide a basis for not just undoing actions of the previous administration, but also making real advances in public policy to protect public health, safety, and the environment.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Melting ice forms a lake on free-floating ice jammed into the Ilulissat Icefjord during unseasonably warm weather on July 30, 2019 near Ilulissat, Greenland. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

A first-of-its-kind study has examined the satellite record to see how the climate crisis is impacting all of the planet's ice.

Read More Show Less
Probiotic rich foods. bit245 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Ana Maldonado-Contreras

Takeaways

  • Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria that are vital for keeping you healthy.
  • Some of these microbes help to regulate the immune system.
  • New research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, shows the presence of certain bacteria in the gut may reveal which people are more vulnerable to a more severe case of COVID-19.

You may not know it, but you have an army of microbes living inside of you that are essential for fighting off threats, including the virus that causes COVID-19.

Read More Show Less
Michael Mann photo inset by Joshua Yospyn.

By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.

The New Climate War: the fight to take back our planet is the latest must-read book by leading climate change scientist and communicator Michael Mann of Penn State University.

Read More Show Less