Going Bananas: a historical, ecological, and social look at bananas (draft 1)

This topic submitted by Nick Delphia ( delphinj@miamioh.edu) at 9:05 PM on 3/25/04.

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I chose to research the topic of bananas. I am interested in both how the banana market became what it is today and what the environmental and social implications are for the production of bananas. Bananas are very interesting because the issue of their mass production is somewhat contentious. On the one hand there are huge environmental consequences that result from this enormous mono-crop industry. On the other hand, however, the job market in Costa Rica combined with the size of the banana industry leaves little else for the workers to do. I decided that, as someone who eats a lot of bananas, I should research them so that I am a little more aware of all that has gone into the snack I have every day.

I. Bananas, a little history
A.United Fruit and Standard fruit compete
B.Reasons for large scale forest destruction
a.intercropping not economically feasible
b.need for virgin soil/ fleeing from disease
C.The marketing of the Banana
a."the first fast food"
b.Encouraged by doctors/ cookbooks
c.Carmen Miranda
D.Some numbers- export info, then and now
II. Pseudo sustainability
A.return to old land prompted by new breeds and massive pesticide use
III. Agro-chemical uses
A.Pesticides/ Fertilizers
a.PLA plastic films
b.Herbicides, Fungicides, Nematocides, and insecticides
IV. Banana plantation effects
A.Increased cancer rates from agro-chemicals
B.Ecosystem consequences of agro-chemicals
a.water table pollution
b.PLA plastic bags washed into rivers/oceans
c.Dead fish in canals
d.Increased N2O in atmosphere
C.Habitat fragmentation

V. Workers
A.labor laws (90 day probationary period = no job security)
a.continual relocation of workers (effects on family life)
B.Contractor system (unionization is difficult
C.Balance of resources (who has the land and where the profits go)
D.Legal fighting for rights


Emaus, Foro. "The Price of Bananas: The Banana Industry in Costa Rica". Global Pesticide Campaigner. March 1998. Vol 8. No 1.

vanArsdale, Christopher. "Banana Development in Costa Rica". Multinational Monitor. January/February 1991. Vol 12. No 1 & 2.

Tucker, Richard. "Environmentally Damaging Consumption: The Impact of American Markets on Tropical Ecosystems in the Twentieth Century". In: Confronting Consumption. Princen T, Maniates M, Conca K (editors). 2002, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Pages 177-195.

van Wenel de Joode B, Wesseling C, Kromhout H, Monge P, Garcia M, & Mergler D. "Chronic nervous-system effects of long-term occupational exposure to DDT". The Lancet. Vol 357. March 31, 2001. Pg 1014-1016.

Harrison K. (1999) "Occupational risks to male reproductive health". Reproductive Medicine Review. Vol 7. No 2 & 3. 71-79.

Matlock R B, Rogers D, Edwards P J, & Martin S G. "Avian communities in forest fragments and reforestation areas associated with banana plantations in Costa Rica". (2002) Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 199-215.

Matlock R B & De La Cruz R. (2003) "Ants as Indicators of Pesticide Impacts in Banana". Environmental Entomology. Vol 32. No 4. 816-829.

For Further Info on this Topic, Check out this WWW Site: www.globalexchange.org.
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