COLUMBUS, Ohio - When Americans go to grocery stores to buy bananas or pineapples, odds are the fruit they find there came from Costa Rica. And bigger odds are, those sweet treats have been exposed to a lot of chemical pesticides.

A small Central American nation the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica is nonetheless the world's largest exporter of pineapples and one of the top growers and exporters of bananas. Both fruits are loved by Americans -- in fact, the United States is the world's No. 1 importer of the two tropical fruits.

But to satisfy international demand and quality standards, both crops are grown under intensive production systems -- which require large amounts of insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and other synthetic inputs, put a strain on the soil, and represent a risk to the environment.

So if Americans are concerned about what goes into their favorite fruits, something needs to be done to change the way they are grown. This explains why Ohio State University scientists and their Costa Rican counterparts are working together to find environmentally friendly pest management options and implement different technologies and practices that would help mitigate the effects that large plantation crops have on fragile tropical ecosystems.

The team -- Ohio State researchers from various disciplines in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and the Department of Geography; and faculty members from the Escuela de Agricultura de la Regi