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Managing an everlastingly polluted world : food policies and community health actions in the french west indies

Abstract : The author examines the gradual evidencing, from the late 1990s, of the generalized contamination of the French Antilles by chlordecone - an organic-chloride pesticide used in banana plantations until 1992 - and then the management of this lasting contamination for which no remedy exists. Chlordecone a persistent organic pollutant (POP), which has a half-life of several hundred years, is an endocrine disruptor and carcinogen. The author analysis points out three significant phenomena in the transformation of toxic governance in recent years. First he clearly shows the importance of the materiality of contaminants, that is, not only of their toxic effects but also of their physical-chemicals characteristics, which cause these substances to remain present for a long time after their use. Second, he underscores the existence of a 'toxic heritage' for which there is no simple solution. Regulatory authorities now have to manage not only crisis situations but also the future living conditions of populations that have no alternative but to carry on living in areas that will remain contaminated. Third the paper illuminates the shifts taking place in the production and implementation of limit values. The experts and regulatory agencies, in addition to producing these thresholds, also have to design and apply polities that compel individuals to change their practices - in this case with regard to agriculture and food - if they are to limit their own exposure. These new 'living with' policies thus endorse a certain distribution of tasks between the regulatory agencies and individuals while the former produce limit values and recommendations, the latter have to be responsible for themselves, to know these recommendations, and to apply them.
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  • HAL Id : hal-02807089, version 1
  • PRODINRA : 188124



Didier Torny. Managing an everlastingly polluted world : food policies and community health actions in the french west indies. Toxicants, Health and Regulation since 1945, 9, Pickering & Chatto, 193 p., 2013, Studies for the Society for the Social History of Medicine, 978-1- 84893-403-0. ⟨hal-02807089⟩



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