Sunday, June 5, 2011


Use of pesticides for crop protection is an inevitable step adopted during the last one century and to day's food production has reached a level that is in pace with population growth, largely due to application of these chemical protectants. What is being criticized is their indiscriminate use causing havoc to all those exposed to them. If there is a successful organic food movement to day that meets the needs of consumers who want "clean" foods, it is largely due to the "scare" factor on account of pesticide and insecticide residues on agricultural crops. It is true that crops can be raised without using any chemical but whether such a practice can be adopted universally is debatable. If 100% of the world population is to be fed on organic foods, it is doubtful whether it is technically and logistically feasible. This is where one has to consider judicious use of chemical food protectants with least possible risk to human health. Here is an example of a multinational company using a deadly pesticide recklessly on its Banana plantations in a developing country in South America causing untold misery to thousands of its employees working in the field without caring about the consequences.

"We see them in piles at the grocery store, on our kitchen counters, atop our cereal, but for many plantation workers in Nicaragua, daily exposure to bananas has had a much more profound impact on their lives. Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten's Bananas! artfully relates the true stories of a handful of these plantation workers as they battle the Dole Food Co. in court.Represented by famed Los Angeles lawyer Juan "Accidentes" Dominguez, the workers sued Dole for using a pesticide known as Nemagon on its bananas in Nicaragua during the 1970s, even after the chemical was banned in other countries across the world. Though the chemical has been proven to cause a wide range of health issues, Dominguez chose to focus on the cases in which exposure to the chemical caused sterility.As the film follows Dominguez's journey through Nicaragua to talk to some of the affected Dole workers first-hand and subsequently fight for their rights, it also provides a very intimate look at the heart-wrenching circumstances and stories of the employees that were unknowingly exposed to the harmful chemicals. By piecing together recent interviews with Nicaraguan men, women and children and footage of what went on at the country's banana plantations more than 30 years ago, Gertten is able to shed light on a side of the global food industry that many do not know exists".

Millions of people world over eat these nicely presented and branded banana without ever knowing the story behind the dangerous cultivation practices followed by the company in search of higher and higher profits and the documentary film "Bananas!" deserves applause for graphically detailing the woes of the banana plantation workers. Of course lawyers are bound to smell money in pursuing legal cases against the company for financial compensation and ultimately the workers may get some consolation. But such financial hand outs will never be able to restore their health, consigning them to a life of eternal misery! In India the tragic story of Endosulfan in Kerala highlights the fact that it is not only multinational companies who are callous and even governments can be criminally negligent in protecting the health of their citizens by not taking timely action in banning dangerous pesticides. Consumers who eat Dole brand banana must remember the sacrifices of the Nicaraguan plantation workers when and if they eat these "misery" fruits again after reading this story!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of the greatest crimes taken place is against Yuan, the lawyer putting his career on the line vs Dole. Large multinational's try to discredit and tie things up in court until the headlines go away, resulting in multi-years of delay. Chemicals for big money, a theme played out all over the world, big difference here, Yuan Dominguez and his team are willing to make the sacracfice for change!