Pineapple production has the following severe environmental impacts:
- pineapple areas in CR have increased rapidly from 12.500 hectares in the year 2000 to some 45.000 hectares in 2015, emplying now some 30,000 persons. Pineapple exports increased very rapidly over the past ten years, earning $ 485 milion in 2007 and $ 789 million in 2012.
- To prepare the land, areas are deforested, local fauna such as iguanas, howler monkey, sloth, and coatis are evicted and/or killed, wetlands drained, all vegetation is cleared, the surface is levelled completely, and filled with soil and a network of roads is made for spraying the plants and removing production;
- deep waterways are cut throughout the production areas draining off water resources from large areas and causing soil erosion;
- Extensive use of chemical pesticides and herbicides including bromacil (a human carcinogen) are contaminating rivers, marshes and aquifers and, last but not least the groundwater of local communities. This has happened in the canton of Squirres where communities now receive their drinking water by truck. Two pineapple companies are under criminal investigation. On 16 February, 2009 the Squirres Municipal Council issued a moratorium on the expansion of pineapple cultivation, supported by findings of the University of Costa Rica.
- annually, the plants are killed with agrochemicals and the rests burned or ploughed into the ground causing insect plagues affecting cattle in neighbouring areas;
- biodiversity in surrounding and not planted areas is severely affected and reduced as fauna cannot migrate anymore through the pineapple areas. All fauna including insects and flora on the land is eliminated;
- after years of production the soil will be biologically dead and unsuitable for any other agiculture;
- pineapple plantation workers suffer injuries of the column, stings from the pineappple leaves in the eyes and skin, etc. which remain largely unreported to the health authorities;
- prices for the farmer fluctuate heavily and drop with overproduction putting small farmers out of business and leaving big corporations such as Pindeco to control the local and export market.
The Rainforest Allaince (www.rainforest-alliance.org) developed a Sustainable Agricultural Program with Additional Criteria and Indicators for Pineapple Production. These are unfortunately inadequate to compensate for the adverse environmental impacts. EALA strives to improve these criteria.
Organic pineapple is only very slowly advancing: on Finca Corsicana (http://www.fincacorsicana.com) near La Virgen de Sarapiquí, some 500 hectares is now in organic production without the use of agrochemicals. As the fruit ripens during 16 in stead of 14 months, its taste is 35% sweeter.