Bananas!* the Film

As part of my Global Sustainability class at UVa, we are required to watch two movies outside of class. The first movie I chose to see was Bananas!* (yes, the asterisk is included in the title).

Bananas!* tells the story of plantation workers in Nicaragua suing Dole food company for the extended use of a pesticide called dipromochloropropane (DBCP). The EPA prohibited the use of DBCP in the United States after it was found to cause sterilization in workers, among many other devastating health effects. Dow, the chemical company that supplied DCBP to Dole, told Dole to stop using the chemical and send back any unused stock. Instead of following through, Dole declared this to be a breach of contract, and Dow let them continue the use of DBCP until it ran out as long as Dow was not liable for any future problems.

This made Dole liable for ANY future problems. Or so you would think.

It’s 2007. Los Angeles lawyer Juan Dominguez has heard the story of Nicaraguan workers. He has created a case with some of the best lawyers in the US after doing extensive research in Nicaragua. Dominguez learns in horror about the Nicaraguan’s working conditions. DCBP would drip on their clothes and their skin. For the particular work they had to do, they would go barefoot in the puddles of DCBP to facilitate banana harvesting. The twelve plaintiffs he represents are all sterile. In response, Dole refuses to acknowledge that their actions led to the sterilization of hundreds of workers, hiring the best lawyers to combat Dominguez.

I will not spoil for you the results of the trial, but I will say that, as in most trials against corporations, it was a tough battle.

This movie shed light on the shocking use of dangerous pesticides in other countries. It showed both the sides of the Nicaraguan workers and Dole Food Company, using Juan Dominguez as a detective trying to figure out what really happened. There is never a dull moment, perhaps because we know that the movie is a true story.

Bananas!* taught me and will teach you to be wary of what you eat. Be a smart consumer. Do not unknowingly support unethical companies. This does not have to be a drastic change. Just do a little research on the foods you eat most in your spare time – you never know what you’ll find.

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