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Keywords:

  • Tropical ecotoxicology;
  • Bananas;
  • Pesticides;
  • Wildlife;
  • Biodiversity

Abstract

Developing tropical nations have greatly expanded their agricultural production during the past decade. Substantial areas of tropical ecosystems have been altered to accommodate agriculture. Banana cultivation is responsible for much of this habitat alteration. Substantial use of agricultural chemicals is required to successfully cultivate bananas, and this has raised concern over the effects of these chemicals on workers, wildlife, and tropical environments in general. We review the practice of banana cultivation and address the major chemical inputs to plantations. Numerous cases of pesticide-related health problems in Latin American plantation workers have been documented, and most were attributable to incorrect use and handling. A review of known wildlife-related impacts of agricultural chemicals commonly used in banana plantations raises substantial concerns about the large-scale environmental impacts in tropical terrestrial and aquatic environments. We recommend the application of an environmental risk assessment process to the use of agricultural chemicals on banana plantations. The process should follow the paradigm as outlined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Such a study would create a precedent for the assessment of environmental risk in the tropics.