The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is currently on the second leg of its tour in the Gulf of California, investigating toxic chemicals associated with agriculture. Last week, activists sent a message to food companies Bimbo, La Costeña, and Herdez, among others. The reason? These companies are using harmful fertilizers in the production of their food products. The dangerous toxins found in these fertilizers end up in our waterways and can have negative impacts on our health.

Esperanza Agrotoxics Food for Life Action in Mexico © Arturo Rocha / Greenpeace

Greenpeace activists unfurl a banner in the Gulf of California to denounce several companies

Greenpeace activists unfurled a message to denounce brands that promote the use of pesticides and fertilizers in Sinaloa, Mexico

The food products made by Bimbo, Maseca, Herdez, La Costeña and Bachoco are found in nearly every Mexican household, and are most often sourced in Sinaloa. Thirty eight percent of vegetables in Mexico are produced in the Sinaloa region, which also ranks first in grain production, the cultivation of which uses large amounts of pesticides.

Twenty-nine pesticides currently allowed by the authorities in Mexico are already banned in other countries. The use of agrochemicals and fertilizers in Mexico has reached record highs in the last decade, in large part due to agricultural expansion, especially in the north and the agricultural fields of Sinaloa.

For example, in 2012 alone almost 120,000 tons of pesticides and two million tons of fertilizers were used on twenty-two million hectares of agricultural land in Mexico. But the pesticides don’t just pollute the soil, traces of these substances can end up as residues in our foods.

These pesticides also have a negative impact on coastal ecosystems. In some countries, use of fertilizers has led to the appearance of harmful algal blooms.

Greenpeace, together with the UCCS (Union of Scientists Committed to Society) is currently conducting an investigation in the Gulf of California and Sinaloa Rivers to document and expose the impact of agrotoxics. Stay tuned, and we will be sure to let you know what we find out.

These companies can make the difference between providing healthy food for people in a sustainable way, or they can continue following an industrial agriculture model that pollutes water and soil, spreading down rivers into lakes and the sea.

Greenpeace is calling on the Mexican authorities and food companies to promote an ecological and sustainable farming model that protects the environment and produces healthy food.  Many farmers are willing to be trained in ecological techniques and transition to organic farming.

The Esperanza will head to Mazatlán on August 15th, where she will be open to the public. Learn more about the Healthy Food, Healthy Earth campaign at (in Spanish)

Maïa Booker is a Multimedia Editor for the Americas at Greenpeace USA.