Recent years have seen a growing Salvadoran environmental movement and concern about the impact of businesses such as mining and sugar cane on local communities. The NGO EcoViva has an article on its blog about a grass roots initiative in local communities proposing laws to regulate harmful practices in the cane fields:
The proposed law will limit certain practices of the sugar cane plantations, including indiscriminate pesticide and fertilizer application, deforestation and burning before the harvest. It was written the help of legal expertise from the University of El Salvador and has the backing of eight coastal government districts and many community organizations.
A new coalition of local governments and community groups called the Movement for the Defense of Natural Resources and Human Life, headed up by the Mangrove Association, is leading a regional effort to eliminate these harmful practices that are commonplace in El Salvador’s highly unregulated sugar cane sector. According to members of the Movement, all of these practices have had a measurable impact on community health and local ecology.
Some national and local officials, including Mr. Barahona, believe that an unusually high local incidence of chronic kidney failure can be linked to the presence of specific agricultural chemicals in the groundwater, and he is calling on national agencies to take emergency action.
The practice of burning before the harvest is another critical issue. ... In 1996, an infant was reported to have been killed during a similar burning operation that is routine during the sugar cane harvest. Though burning is known to reduce soil productivity and even sugar content in the cane plant itself, it is still used to improve harvesting efficiency. (more).