Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Toxic Injustice: A Transnational History of Exposure and Struggle

Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Toxic Injustice: A Transnational History of Exposure and Struggle

Article excerpt

Bohme, Susanna Rankin. Toxic Injustice: A Transnational History of Exposure and Struggle. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2015. xi, 343 pp. ISBN: 978052027898, cloth. US $65.00. ISBN: 978052027899, paper. US $29.95. Also available as an eBook. Printed on Natures Natural, a paper containing 30% post-consumer waste.

In the 1950s, the science of synthetic pesticides foresaw the promise of the eradication of global hunger and disease. Toxic Injustice shows a different outcome, however, focusing on a soil fumigant nematicide call dibromochloropropane (DBCP). DBCP was developed to prevent root damage from tiny, worm-like creatures called nematodes and was marketed globally by companies, such as Dow, Shell and others. Toxicological testing remained incomplete and exposure to DBCP was unsafe to use for many years. By the 1970s, DBCP was being used to treat scores of crops,, but the focus in this book is on the banana plantations of Central America. By the 2000s, tens of thousands of banana workers had reported health problems from DBCP exposure, particularly sterility and cancer. No protection had been provided to those exposed, and "DBCP remains a classic example of the phenomenon that has come to be known as toxic trade" (p. 4).

DBCP was widely used until the 1980s when those affected by exposure to it began to demand justice for their suffering. Lawyers had varying degrees of success in securing either a monetary compensation or a legal recognition of suffering. Emphasis is placed on the role of the national state in the use and accountability of DBCP. National state laws partially aided affected workers, though litigation became entangled in issues including the use of DBCP by both farm and production workers, difficulties in language translation, and a trial's geographic location. …

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