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Global Love of Bananas May Be Hurting Costa Rica's Crocodiles

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
We Americans love bananas. Each year, we eat more bananas than any other fruit and most banana growers make heavy use of pesticides. For example, one-third of all the pesticides殺蟲劑 used in Costa Rica哥斯大黎加, one of the major suppliers供應商 of the world's bananas, is on banana plantations. And now, a new study from Costa Rica suggests that these pesticides may be hurting wildlife.
As NPR's Rhitu Chatterjee reports, the chemicals are winding up in the bodies of crocodiles.
RHITU CHATTERJEE, BYLINE: There's a reason why banana farmers use a lot of pesticides.
CHRIS WILLE: Banana plantations大型農場 are in the tropics, where there are a lot more kinds of pests and in abundance數量繁多.
CHATTERJEE: That's Chris Wille, the chief of sustainable agriculture熱帶雨林保育聯盟. He works with banana growers to help them reduce the amount of pesticides they use. And it's not just insects they're trying to control, he says, there are fungal diseases黴菌病蟲害, too.
WILLE: When you see pictures of airplanes spraying banana farms, they're spraying for an airborne fungal disease called Black Sigatoka, which can devastate破壞 a plantation in a matter of a week or so.
CHATTERJEE: Many of Costa Rica's banana plantations are in the remote northeastern region among streams溪流, canals運河and rainforests雨林. That's where Paul Grant, a wildlife biologist at Stellenbosch University, in South Africa, went to investigate whether pesticides are hurting local wildlife.
PAUL GRANT: In the past, I have witnessed and other locals have pointed out that there have been massive大量的fish kills as a result of pesticide exposure in high levels高濃度.
CHATTERJEE: Grant wanted to know if these pesticides are also ending up in animals that eat the fish. In particular, he was interested in a small crocodile called a spectacled caiman一種美洲的熱帶鱷魚, because a bony ridge between its eyes雙眼間有一個脊狀的突起 makes it look like its wearing eye glasses. These caimans live in the Tortugero Conservation Area托爾圖格羅保育區, which is just downstream from the banana farms.
GRANT: Because they're long lived and they're at the top of the food chain位於食物鏈的最上端, a lot of the pesticides will kind of wind up最後會跑到 at the top.
CHATTERJEE: He collected blood samples from 14 adult caimans, some that lived closer to plantations and others further downstream in cleaner waters. He and his colleagues analyzed the blood samples for 70 different pesticides. What they found concerned him. The samples contained nine pesticides, two of which are currently in use and...
GRANT: Seven of which were historic persistent organic pollutants.長久性有機污染物
CHATTERJEE: These are pesticides like DDT, dieldrin and endosulfan, chemicals that have been banned for nearly a decade but persist in the environment and build up in the bodies of animals.



什麼是DDT
DDT是一種使用廣泛的化學物質,用來控制農作物上的昆蟲及傳播瘧疾和斑疹傷寒的昆蟲。DDT當作殺蟲劑使用而進入環境中。DDT存在於許多垃圾場中,這些物質釋放後可能會污染環境。大部分存在於環境中的DDT是過去使用的結果;DDD在過去也在有限的程度上作為殺蟲劑之用。DDT仍然不斷地進入環境中,因為其他地方仍在使用它。一旦進入環境中,DDT可在土壤中存在很長一段時間。研究顯示,在土壤中DDT的半衰期約為2年,但其他研究則指出需要15年以上的時間。一些DDT可能會從土壤中蒸發而進入空氣中,有一些則可能會被陽光或微生物分解。
什麼是Dieldrin
狄氏劑(Dieldrin)又名地特靈,是一種已被許多國家禁用的人造殺蟲劑。純地特靈為白色粉狀,具有緩慢的揮發性,並且有些微特殊氣味,在水和泥土中皆具有很強的持續性[1],地環境影響極大。
什麼是Endosulfan
安殺番endosulfan是一種有機氯化合物,用來作為殺蟲劑和殺蟎劑。安殺番已經成為一個極具爭議的農藥。由於其劇毒性、生物蓄積性和內分泌干擾素作用,已經在50多個國家被禁止使用,包括歐盟、一些亞洲和西非國家。但它仍然廣泛應用於許多其他國家,包括印度,巴西和澳大利亞。由於安殺番對環境的威脅,安殺番正在被考慮納入斯德哥爾摩公約中禁止在全球使用和製造。


Peter Ross is an environmental scientist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia維多利亞大徐 and also an author on this study. He says even though the overall levels of the pesticides were modest適度/少量, there was some indication that they were causing harm.
PETER ROSS: What was revealing to me was the fact that the caiman that were near banana plantations had not only higher concentrations高濃度 of most of the pesticides that were detected, they were in a poorer state of health健康狀況也較不好 relative to the caiman that were in the more pristine原始的(未遭到破壞或是污染的), remote areas.
CHATTERJEE: Ross and his colleagues have published their findings in the latest issue of the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.
Chris Wille of the Rainforest Alliance says there's an important lesson here.
WILLE: You know, we're now reckoning with判斷/估算 the problem left by past use of highly toxic, highly persistent pesticides非常持久的殺蟲劑. So, what plantations must avoid now is leaving similar toxic legacies遺產/留給後人的東西 for the next generation to deal with.
CHATTERJEE: Especially as the demand for bananas has been growing worldwide and plantations are moving towards more intensive methods of cultivation密集式的栽培.
Rhitu Chatterjee, NPR News.





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