A Danwatch investigation
A Danwatch investigation

They live and die by bananas

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De lever og dør af bananerne

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  • Bananas from Ecuador are sprayed with highly toxic pesticides, of which seven are outlawed in the EU and eighteen are outlawed in Denmark, according to the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food.
  • The pesticides are applied by crop-dusting planes, which spray the poison over more than 5000 banana plantations in Ecuador, affecting both agricultural workers and local communities. The practice of crop dusting is not permitted in Denmark out of concern for human and environmental health.
  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), several of the pesticides being used on Ecuador’s banana plantations are either carcinogenic or have other serious side effects.
  • Cancer and mortality rates are significantly higher in banana-growing provinces than in the rest of Ecuador. Pilots of crop-dusting aircraft have 40% higher mortality than the population at large. Among banana plantation workers, mortality rates are 25% higher compared to other Ecuadoreans.
  • The risk of developing cancer is 5.5 times higher in the banana-producing provinces than in the rest of Ecuador.
  • In the banana region of El Oro, nearly twice as many children are born with birth defects than in the rest of the country.
  • A survey taken by Danwatch shows that Dansk Supermarked, COOP, Aldi, Lidl and Dagrofa (Meny and Spar) all purchase bananas from Ecuador.
  • Dansk Supermarked states that it imports only organic bananas from Ecuador, while Lidl and Aldi say they only purchase bananas from plantations certified by the Rainforest Alliance, which is working to phase out 150 of the most dangerous pesticides as identified by the WHO and the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).
  • The Rainforest Alliance informs Danwatch, however, that it has only managed to audit pesticide use in 2 of the 168 banana plantations it certified in Ecuador in 2017. According to new standards for Rainforest Alliance, only 6 of the 26 most used pesticides are prohibited.
  • None of the four Danish supermarkets that import conventional bananas from Ecuador can guarantee that highly toxic pesticides are not used in their production.
  • Similar conditions have been reported in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru, but these have not been documented in this investigation.

All articles in this investigation. You decide where to begin.


The poison comes from the sky