Fresh flowers are a commodity or products of floriculture which is a discipline of horticulture. The process of fresh flowers production involves cultivation and processing of ornamental and flowering plants either organically or by use of chemicals and other diverse biotechnological methods. The commodity is one of the luxurious and nonfood products in the world of agribusiness with high social value and having a tremendous increase in demand in the international market (Getu, 2009). With the increased demand of this top social value product, most of the developing countries have taken its production as a way of achieving their economic growth with the aid of low labor cost and favorable climatic conditions.
According to Buckingham (2016), the world's leading producers like Kenya, Colombia, Ethiopia, and Ecuador have concentrated much on the gain and growth of their economic stability regardless of the negative impacts on social, political, environmental and health to the citizens of these countries. Even though there are control measures to regulate production as well as these impacts, there exist significant implications for the social, environmental, and health impact of the industry. These impacts should be controlled by all means through the creation of public awareness of the dangers caused by excessive production of fresh flowers so that as a result the public is discouraged from buying this commodity to save majorly the environment and as well as their health.
The Killing of Aquatic Life and Lowering of Water Levels
It is no doubt that to maximize production of fresh flowers; a wide range of growers uses fertilizers. The fertilizers used by farmers contain a high content of dangerous chemicals which when put in the soil leak to the underground water and eventually to the streams and therefore causing water pollution. According to Getu (2009), through a process called eutrophication, fertilizers that are washed into water surface facilitates the growth of algae which as a result block the light from the sun which is essential for water vegetation. This results in disruption of the food chain which subsequently affects the living organism in the water bodies such as fish. It also causes the deficiency of oxygen in the water which degrades its usability and quality. Maximization of production of fresh cuts requires the use of a lot of fresh water. According to seven ponds (n.d), Columbia uses its large quantity of water to grow flowers. As a result, there is a drastic drop in the water table around the areas of Bogota where most of the flowers produced are exported to the U.S.A. In water-stressed countries like Kenya, virtual water export for fresh flowers stands at 45 percent. This is a clear indicator that production of fresh flowers is one of the major causes of lower water levels which results to drought and eventually famine. With all these negative impacts, buyers and investors should resist from encouraging excessive production of flowers to ensure steady food crop production and ultimately food security.
Causing Chronic Diseases and Death
According to Abler (n.d), diseases like Methemoglobinemia, cancer and Japanese encephalitis are caused by chemicals found in fertilizers and pesticides. He further posits that occasionally, nitrates have caused ill health or death of infants because of the blue baby syndrome (Methemoglobinemia). The disease comes as a result of excess nitrate that is leaked into groundwater and eventually streams or lakes. When this water is used for human consumption, the nitrate content interferes with the oxygen in the human blood and thus the occurrence of Methemoglobinemia. Cancer is also suspected to be caused by nitrates, since the fertilizers contain a lot of nitrates, when leaked into the water and consumed by human being might cause stomach cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. According to pesticide action network (2017) pesticides can be harmful when one is repeatedly exposed to it. Frequent exposure at lower levels might not cause an immediate effect but eventually might cause serious illness. When fresh flower growers continuously use pesticides, they might develop chronic diseases such as asthma, Parkinson's disease, cancer and leukemia, depression and anxiety among other chronic diseases. This is a clear indicator of the dangers of encouraging buyers and investors of fresh flowers. Therefore, they should not buy or invest in fresh flowers since its production processes hugely affects people's health and eventually cause death.
Causes Unregulated Urbanization and Exploitation of Workers
Production of fresh flowers demands s for relatively intensive labor. As a result, people tend to move and concentrate in areas where floriculture activities are done. Eventually, there is an increasing demand for social infrastructure and natural resources caused by population growth which might not be viable and hence causing uncontrolled urbanization. According to Herper et. Al (2011), the increased population growth in Naivasha Kenya caused by employees at the flower farms has caused increased local pollution, overloaded sewerage, diminishing peri-urban land which makes social life even more difficult. This has caused uncontrolled urbanization leading to poor living standards and hence negatively impacting the social life of the community. Flower growers at times use child labor and fail to pay workers who aid in the production process of fresh flowers (seven ponds, n.d). The workers are in most cases insufficiently protected from exposure to pesticides which as a result expose them to chronic diseases discussed above. Seven ponds posits that more than half the flower workers hailing from Ecuador and Costa Rica show at least a symptom of pesticide poising and occasionally experience miscarriages due to such exposures. It is clear that laborers have a poor living standard caused by overpopulation at the areas of fresh flowers productions and they as well exploited by the employees. Investors should be discouraged by these acts of inhumanity and make investments in other commodities.
In summary, there is a tremendous increase in the production of fresh flowers, especially in developing countries. This is as a result of aiming to gain economic stability among other benefits. However, the countries producing these commodities should be watchful of the negative impacts caused by fresh flower productions ranging from environmental effects, dangerous health effects and inhuman social effects. This can be achieved by creating public awareness of the negative impacts of increased fresh flower production so that both the public and investors can take control measures to ensure this menace is in control.
Buckingham, K. (2016): What Are the Environmental Costs of Valentine's Day Flowers?. Retrieved from https://www.wri.org/blog/2016/02/what-are-environmental-costs-valentines-day-flowers
Getu, M. (2009). Ethiopian floriculture and its impact on the environment. Mizan law review, 3(2), 240-270 Retreived from http://www.ajol.info/index.php/mlr/article/viewFile/54011/42554
Seven Ponds (n.d): Environmental And Social Impact of Flowers. Retrieved from http://www.sevenponds.com/after-death/environmental-and-social-impact-of-flowers
Abler, D. G.(n.d): 659 NAFTA,[North Atlantic Free Trade Association], Agriculture and the Environment. Tulsa LJ, 28, 659.
Pesticide Action Network (n.d): Impacts of Pesticides on Health. Retrieve from http://www.pan-uk.org/health-effects-of-pesticides/
Harper D, Morrison E, Macharia M, Mavuti K, Upton C (2011) Lake Naivasha, Kenya: Eecology, Society and Future. Freshwater Reviews 4(2):89-114
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