Saturday 22 September 2007

Toxic islands

As you innocently unpeel a nice creamy banana, spare a thought for the banana-growers on the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, which have been thoroughly poisoned by years of illegal pesticide-spraying.

A French cancer specialist says the 800,000 inhabitants of the islands face a health disaster from toxins that have wrecked the soil and water supplies for up to a century.

Such are the soaring rates of cancer, infertility and birth defects that complete evacuation of the islands would probably be the best course of action.

Chlordecone, a highly toxic pesticide, was sprayed illegally over the islands from 1993 to 2002, to kill weevils. Every child in Guadeloupe is contaminated with it and they will pass it on to their own children in turn.

As if that isn't enough, the residents are still trying to recover from the effects of Hurricane Dean, which ruined about three quarters of all the banana plantations. Many growers are unable to replant their crops because of the ravaged soil and water.

It's yet another graphic example of how capitalists will go to ruthless extremes to up their profits at the expense of people's health and quality of life. In this case however they've shat in their own beds and sabotaged future economic prospects for everyone. Thanks a bunch, you might say.

It's also a vivid reminder that all the health and safety regulations you can think of (whatever they might be on these two islands) are of no avail if one greedy bastard is determined to trample all over them. They may as well be soap bubbles.

(See the article in the London Independent 19.09.07)

NB: the bananas themselves are not affected by the poison (or so they say)


  1. Awful.
    Just awful, Nick.
    That also means that the fruit itself is tainted. Organic fruit tastes better and is far healthier.

  2. Well, they say the fruit isn't tainted, but of course it's true the soil is always tainted by whatever pesticide you use. Yes, organic food does usually taste better, but it's also much more expensive so I must admit I don't buy it regularly. Bit mean of me, I suppose.

  3. Great post Nick, I'd missed that piece of news being on the road for quite a few days.
    Of course the bananas are tainted and these poor people and their children. The lies BigAg tells!! Greed is doing us all in...
    Also, did you hear that bananas will be history in around 10 years? I read that a while ago and can't source it. GM-ing is killing off existing crops and no seed diversification ensures extinction.

  4. It hasn't had a lot of coverage here, www, the media think the possibility of a snap election is much more important than thousands of people dying in the middle of nowhere. And no I didn't hear about bananas disappearing. Why exactly is GM killing off the crops?