With Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s the time of year flower shops everywhere do a lot of business. Flowers are the most beautiful gift on Valentine’s Day but there are lots of chemicals in the velvety, vibrant colored flowers. Whenever you touch or inhale the scent of flowers, you are likely touching or inhaling poisonous chemicals.
The world’s largest cut-flower industry in the waterlogged savannah surrounding the capital of Columbia produce 62 percent of all flowers sold in the United States and most of the toxic assault takes place there. The growers apply a wide range of fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides, some of which have been linked to elevated rates of cancer and neurological disorders and other problems.
Economically the flower industry in Colombia is gaining a lot but this gain comes at a cost of worker’s health and Colombia’s environment.
Colombia’s flower exporters association has launched Florverde which is taking steps to improve safety and welfare of the workers. It says pesticide use has been reduced by 38 percent since 1998, to an average of 213 pounds, nevertheless 36 per of the toxic chemicals applied by Floverede farms in 2005 were listed as extremely toxic by the World Health Organisation.
In Colombia as well as the United States there are no government regulations about the use of pesticides in greenhouses, where toxicity level tends to rise.
As chronic pesticide exposure has not been studied in detail, the casual links between the chemicals and the illness of an individual are hard to prove.
Stiff competition from emerging growers in Africa and China does not let the producers go organic. Still U.S consumers bought $16 million in organic flowers in 2005.That growth has been helped by VeriFlora, a certification program launched by U.S consumers, growers and retailers.32 farms in Colombia have earned the VeriFlora label.