Valentine’s campaign highlights the real cost of roses
by David Masters
February 19, 2008
A campaign launched on Valentine’s day is attempting to uncover the real cost of roses. The campaign’s focus is on a lake in Kenya, where rose farming has wreaked havoc on the local environment.
Lake Naivasha has supplied water to local industrial sized flower farms for decades. The farms grow roses and other decorative plants to be sold in Europe.
The impact of this high intensity farming has been a severe drop in biodiversity, falling water levels, and rising pollution as pesticides are washed into the lake.
Farm workers are forced to do their jobs with no protective equipment, exposed to the sprays which are designed to keep insects away from the flowers.
The campaign highlighting the ‘real cost of roses’ has been set up by the Council of Canadians and the US NGO Food and Water Watch.
Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, said last week: “On this Valentine’s Day, it’s important that we finally stop these international operations from depleting the lake’s waters, poisoning the surrounding environment with pesticides, and exploiting workers.
“Unless we end this, these industrial floriculture factories will continue sowing the seeds of poverty, water deprivation, and environmental carnage.”
The executive director of Food & Water Watch, Wenonah Hauter, added: “I witnessed chemical spraying while people working nearby wore no protective gear.
“The pesticides applied on the farms and in the greenhouses eventually end up in Lake Naivasha and in the groundwater, threatening people and wildlife.”
Both of these NGOs will work with organisations across the world in a bid to encourage consumers to buy local, sustainably grown flowers.
The Africa Network for Animal Welfare is one organisation that has got involved in the campaign. Their director, Josphat Ngonyo, said: “These flower farms are harming people and animals alike.
“Numerous bird and fish species are disappearing from the area and that’s a problem for the environment and the people who depend on the lake.”
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