Juan “Accidentes” Dominguez is on his biggest case ever. On behalf of twelve Nicaraguan banana workers he is tackling Dole Food in a ground-breaking legal battle for their use of a banned pesticide that was known by the company to cause sterility. Can he beat the giant, or will the corporation get away with it? In the suspenseful documentary BANANAS!*, filmmaker Fredrik Gertten sheds new light on the global politics of food.
One third of the production price of the average banana is used simply to cover the cost of pesticides. All over the world, banana plantation workers are suffering and dying from the effects of these pesticides. Juan Dominguez, a million-dollar personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles, is on his biggest case ever representing over 10,000 Nicaraguan banana workers claiming to be afflicted by a pesticide known as Nemagon. Dole Food and Dow Chemicals are on trial.
Another banana worker is being buried in a small northern town in Nicaragua. For his whole life, Alberto Rosales used his machete to remove weeds from below the banana plants. His son says his last years were filled with pain, a body that was itching all night — and in the end his kidneys stopped working.
Inside the church, filled with friends and family, Father Bayardo begins his sermon. It’s not about Alberto Rosales after awhile. It’s about pesticides. Father Bayardo is accusing landowners and US transnationals of immoral practices which he says cause the death and suffering of many members of his community.
The whole region of Chinandega is an ecological disaster zone. The pesticide spray has left its mark everywhere. The soil, the water, the animals, the food of the people are all affected. The level of pesticides in breastmilk is 700 times higher than is acceptable2. Some say it will take 200 years for the ground to heal itself enough to produce natural crops again.
One of the pesticides, a DBCP-based compound called Nemagon, was banned in the USA in 1977 for causing male sterility. Standard Fruit—now Dole—continued to use the pesticide in its plantations outside the USA up to 1982.
Production year: 2009
Length: 87 min
Director: Fredrik Gertten
Producers: Margarete Jangård
Executive Producer: Fredrik Gertten
Editor: Jesper Osmund
Los Angeles Film Festival 2009 – Nominated for Best Documentary Feature
International Green Film Award 2010 – Nominated for ‘Green Oscar’
In selection: Nordisk Panorama Reykjavik, Iceland 2009, M:DOX Film Festival Malmö, Sweden 2009, Leeds International Film Festival Leeds, UK 2009, CPH:DOX Copenhagen, Denmark 2009, Queens International Film Festival Queens, USA 2009, Four Screens Film Festival Paris, France 2009, IDFA International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Netherlands 2009, Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin, Germany 2010, One World International Film Festival Prag, Czech Republic 2010, Real Earth Environmental Film Festival New Zealand 2010