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Banana Capital - Stories, Science, and Poison at the Equator

Banana Capital

Stories, Science, and Poison at the Equator

Paperback : 9781779400345, 368 pages, March 2025
Hardcover : 9781779400352, 368 pages, March 2025
Expected to ship: 2025-03-04
Expected to ship: 2025-03-04


Explores the far-reaching impacts of pesticides in Ecuador’s banana industry, tracing their roots through more than a century of history in the banana-producing Americas

At the southern end of Ecuador’s la costa region lies the city of Machala, the self-described “Banana Capital” of the world. There, farmers and workers experience alarming health effects associated with widespread pesticide use in banana production, compounded by precarious and unsafe working conditions. Banana Capital: Stories, Science, and Poison at the Equator reveals the often grim realities of daily life in banana-producing parts of the world and, beyond that, seeks to understand and address these challenges.

Ben Brisbois’s search for solutions leads him back to the 19th-century origins of banana production in the Americas and through over a century of imperialism, bloodshed, ecological devastation, diverse workforces, and not-so-diverse bananas. Along the way, however, attempts by powerful Northern corporations and their government allies to extract wealth from Latin American territories and bodies prove vulnerable when met with resistance mounted by workers, Latin American nations, and the ever-unpredictable natural world.

Banana Capital issues an urgent call to action, unveiling the power dynamics of life in the banana industry—dynamics vividly experienced by workers in ways that are rooted in significant relationships to communities, the land, and neocolonial power structures. Ultimately, the book provides a roadmap toward social justice and sustainability in the uncertain future of banana production.


Banana Capital upends North American notions of bananas as a "healthy" snack by revealing to readers the precarious lives of farm labour in Ecuador—the world's leading exporter of bananas for more than half a century—whose work is marked by social inequalities and exposure to hazardous pesticides.  What's more, the author compels readers to find ways to achieve meaningful changes that go beyond virtuous consumption.”  —John Soluri, author of Banana Cultures