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Pesticides On Bananas Cause Prostate Cancer: Choose Organic to Protect the Farmers and Their Families

October 27, 2015

Martinique sounds idyllic, relaxing, and like a little bit of paradise. It has lush tropical foliage, beaches, the sounds of birds and tropical forests, but it also some of the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world. We assume that in such an oasis that cancer-like maladies don’t exist, and we would be wrong.

Scientists and physicians first looked to see if the high rates of prostate cancer were caused by genetics, but that link was disproved. They looked to see if it was related to a geographical region, but that wasn’t the cause either. The cause: pesticides sprayed on bananas that penetrated every aspect of the islanders’ bodies:

The high cancer rate in Martinique is being linked to pesticides, primarily used in banana plantations to combat weevils. According to the 2009 paper, researchers found that the islanders’ connective tissue was being contaminated by “extremely high levels” of a nasty cocktail of “DDT, DDE, alpha, beta and gamma HCH, aldrin and dieldrin.” The paper concludes that environmental factors such as the “intensive and prolonged exposure to carcinogenic, mutagenic and reproductive toxin pesticides” may be the culprit.

One of the lead authors of that paper, Dr. Dominique Belpomme, professor in clinical oncology at the Paris University René Descartes, was asked in 2007 by politicians in Martinique to give advice on the health effects of chlordecone pollution — also called kepone, a colorless pesticide related to DDT. It is so toxic that in 2011, it was banned globally by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. “But today, unfortunately, chlordecone was replaced by the use of other toxic pesticides,” he tells OZY, “so there is no end to pollution.” Now, concerned citizens of Martinique believe the chemicals have poisoned their entire food chain, plus their rivers and coasts.

How do we protect people from cancer scourges related to pesticides? Choose organic.

Do we have issues like this in the US? Yes. You can read one woman’s account of raising a family in the pesticide-laden apple farms, and how the family legacy includes losing the grandfather, father, and male generations to cancers from pesticide exposure.

“Farm life was nothing like I’d expected it to be,” she wrote in a recent essay, “and I spent the next 20 years swimming in pesticides.”

At age 42, her husband died of cancer.

“Just like his father and grandfather,” Weir writes, “all three of them subjected to years of chemicals used in the orchard.”

At a certain point, when does the focus on organics become the focus of protecting the very people who grow our food? Monsanto may say that it can grow more food to feed our nation, pollution be damned, even though Round-Up has been declared a “probable carcinogen” (read: Round-Up is a carcinogen), but at what cost to the people who grow the food?

At what point is the health of our farmers a human rights issue?

The United States imports 27% of the world’s banana production. That purchase power represents a powerful way for Americans to choose organic and protect the farmers and their families, as well as their idyllic environments. No American wants to say that their consumption of bananas, by now a ubiquitous food, relies condemning farmers to cancer.

By the way, pesticides have also been linked to childhood cancers, too. Choosing organic protects children, their parents, and their environments.

Lest you really wonder about Monsanto’s claims that its herbicides and pesticides are as safe, watch this video in previous post about the Monsanto exec who claims that Round-Up is “safe enough to drink” but says he won’t drink it because  he’s not “crazy.” Safe, indeed. The wealthy and powerful won’t consume it, but let’s ship it out to the poor and uneducated?

For more on this, you can read my other post here:monsanto-executive-says-round-up-is-safe-to-drink-but-refuses-to-drink-it-himself-calling-interviewer-a-jerk/

“Capital is reckless of the health or length of life of the laborer, unless under compulsion from society”.–Karl Marx

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