Mexico: Researchers warn of pesticides in avocado crops

The use of pesticides to control pests associated with avocado cultivation in the region of Uruapan and other municipalities has become a serious health problem and needs to be urgently addressed to prevent the collapse this agricultural industry, one of the biggest ones in Mexico. We also need to address it to avoid irreversible damage to the health of the population that is directly or indirectly related to the economic activity, said Alma Lilia Fuentes Farias , director of the Research Institute of Natural Resources (Inirena) at the University of San Nicolas de Hidalgo in Michoacan.

The specialist warned about this situation, which is currently a serious health problem, as there is scientific research that has identified evidence of damage to children, youth, and adults in the region who exhibit fatigue, hormonal imbalances and even cancer. He added that they had also found adverse effects in the children's cognition tests. 

The researcher said that the cultivation of avocado is unquestionably associated with environmental problems, due to change in land use, loss of forest cover, negative impacts on biodiversity, chemical pollution of soil, air and water. However, she said, the most severe damage is the systematic and irreversible degradation of the people's health. She also acknowledged that this agribusiness was an important source of foreign exchange sustaining the regional economy of Michoacan and that it generated a significant contribution to the Gross Domestic Product of the national agricultural sector. 

Michoacan, she said, is the leading producer and exporter of avocados in Mexico, and Uruapan is the municipality with the largest and most productive acreage of the fruit, which has been called green gold due to the amount of income it generates. 

She considered that the environmental issue could and should be addressed promptly, which implied political will of the local government and its institutions. There should also be severe actions to enforce environmental regulations and standards, although this demands a change in agricultural practices -particularly of those to control pests and diseases- and limiting the expansion of the cultivated area. "The production system of avocados in Michoacan should be urgently reviewed to mitigate and prevent the environmental damage from being complete," she stated. She said that, above all, what must be stopped is the gradual but irreversible degradation of the health of the people of Uruapan and other municipalities and regions that produce avocado in the state.


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