14 February 2013. In global commerce, everything is connected. While working with my medical colleague, Raul Harari in Ecuador, I learned that a dozen roses would cost me about one or two dollars. The mass production on the Andean Plateau north of Quito secures that the roses can be harvested at a very attractive price. But the efficient greenhouse operations come at an expense to the local population, in particular the children, whose mothers work in the greenhouses during pregnancy. Jennifer Sass, a PhD working with the Natural Resources Defense Council shares her thoughts about receiving a dozen roses for Valentine’s Day.
Nine out of ten long-stemmed roses sold in the US come from either Ecuador or Colombia. Very few are produced without pesticides. Some of the pesticides used are banned in the US, but still produced for export to countries like Ecuador. Many of these substances are known or suspected of being toxic to brain cells. Children, whose mothers have worked in the greenhouses during pregnancy, suffer brain drain. It is all connected. For Valentine’s Day in Boston, I usually get to pay about a hundred dollars for a dozen roses. Clearly, transportation cannot be that expensive. It seems that prudent accounting should be able to leave enough funds to secure that developing brains in Ecuador and elsewhere are not harmed. I hope that Jennifer Sass and other thoughtful colleagues can help ending this injustice. That would be in Saint Valentine’s spirit.