Category Archives: France

Pesticide poisoned French paradise islands in Caribbean

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GETTY IMAGES
Image captionBananas are a big export industry for Martinique and nearly all are shipped to France.

The French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique thrive on their image as idyllic sun, sea and sand destinations for tourists.

But few visitors are aware that these lush, tropical islands have a chronic pollution problem.

A pesticide linked to cancer – chlordecone – was sprayed on banana crops on the islands for two decades and now nearly all the adult local residents have traces of it in their blood.

French President Emmanuel Macron has called it an “environmental scandal” and said the state “must take responsibility”. He visited Martinique last year and was briefed on the crisis on the islands, known in France as the Antilles.

The French parliament is holding a public inquiry which will report its findings in December.

“We found anger and anxiety in the Antilles – the population feel abandoned by the republic,” said Guadeloupe MP Justine Benin, who is in charge of the inquiry’s report.

“They are resilient people, they’ve been hit by hurricanes before, but their trust needs to be restored,” she told the BBC.

Large tracts of soil are contaminated, as are rivers and coastal waters. The authorities are trying to keep the chemical out of the food chain, but it is difficult, as much produce comes from smallholders, often sold at the roadside.

Drinking water is considered safe, as carbon filters are used to remove contaminants.

In the US a factory producing chlordecone – sold commercially as kepone – was shut down in 1975 after workers fell seriously ill there. But Antilles banana growers continued to use the pesticide.

 

 

 

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50144261

Severe flooding in south of France leaves three dead

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At least three people have died after floods hit the south of France, France’s Interior Ministry confirmed.

About 2,000 firefighters and rescue workers were deployed to the region, where rivers burst their banks, blocked roads and caused significant damage.

It is not known if a 68-year-old woman who was swept away from her home in Béziers is among the fatalities.

Flash floods also devastated parts of northern Italy and Spain this week, where three others died.

In a statement, the French interior ministry said the heavy rain was now moving down towards northern Corsica.

“Over the past three days, particularly severe storms have hit the south of France, causing three deaths and serious damage to the region,” the French Interior Ministry said in a statement.

“The rain continues and is now affecting the eastern coast of Haute-Corse. Everyone must remain vigilant.”

The town of Béziers saw 198mm (nearly 8in) of rain – or about two months’ average rainfall – in just six hours on Wednesday morning.

According to local media, the woman who was swept away by the floods in the town was found unconscious in a vineyard, about 100m (330ft) away. She was then taken by helicopter to hospital in Montpellier.

Dramatic images posted on social media showed cars submerged as the waters of the River Orb rose to dangerous levels.

In Hérault, forecasters said 240mm of rain fell in a 24-hour period – a 50-year record. Local prefect Jacques Witkowski told reporters that shelter had been given to more than 1,000 people whose homes had been flooded.

 

 

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50169525