Last week, the UK Guardian posted an investigative article and accompanying short film, “Pineapples: Luxury fruit, at what price?”. Focusing on the human health and environmental impacts of pesticide-dependent pineapple plantations in Costa Rica, the film links what happens to workers and communities with what consumers have come to expect — artificially inexpensive produce flown in from across the globe year-round. To meet market demand for cheap pineapples, field workers are exposed to cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting herbicides like endosulfan and bromocil while receiving only four percent of what consumers pay for the fruit of their labors.
PAN Latin America's Fernando Ramirez (identified as an agrochemical expert in the film) points out that "growers use 10 or 15 times more herbicides" on pineapples than on other crops, and that the application of toxic pesticides is especially tragic in a rainforest area, where heavy rains wash the poisons into nearby water sources, contaminating a community water source not 100 meters from the plantation.
"What I hope this film is really able to bring home," observes Dr. Medha Chandra, Pesticide Action Network North America international campaigner, "is that this is not an isolated case of pineapple plantations in Costa Rica. The struggles of workers and communities from the palm oil plantations in Malaysia, cashew plantations in India, banana plantations in Nicaragua, strawberry fields and oranges groves right here in the U.S. — all echo the story of the impacts of global trade in cash crops that exploits cheap farm labor and marginalized communities, whether in the Global South or among migrants in the North, all in service of an industrial food system that prioritizes profit above human dignity."