FORT-DE-FRANCE / BASSE TERRE – This investigation goes behind the scenes of a French state scandal, tracing a historical route from governmental actors who approved use of chlordecone, a dangerous chemical, in agriculture, to the realities of victims speaking out today. Their testimonies highlight how the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe face an environmental and sanitary disaster still ongoing.

Available on the market until 1993, chlordecone is a potential carcinogenic and the active ingredient of pesticides used in the French Antilles’ banana fields. The chemical was never used in continental France, only in its former colonies of Martinique and Guadeloupe, now two of France’s overseas departments.

Despite being banned in the US and West Germany in the 1970s, the French State claims that it couldn't have known the dangers of this persistent molecule, essential to protect its share of the European banana market.    

After spending months contacting sources and conducting research in the French national archives, reporters Juli Simond, Giada Santana, and Chris Knapp, joined by photographer Eddie Stok, spent five weeks on the ground in Martinique and Guadeloupe. There, they interviewed over fifty sources, including victims and their families, activists, past and present government officials, scientists and researchers, farmers, and industry captains.

The result is a series of articles in Spanish, Italian, French, and English that have been published or are forthcoming in spring 2024.  

Photo: Eddie Stok

Team members

Juli Simond

Juli Simond is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Brussels.

Juli Simond

Giada Santana

Giada Santana is an Italian Dominican freelance journalist based in Paris.

Giada Santana

Chris Knapp

Chris Knapp is a journalist based in Paris, France. 

Chris Knapp

Eddie Stok

Eddie Stok is a graphic designer and visual storyteller (The Netherlands).

A young skinny man with curly black hair reaching his shoulders
€47,210 allocated on 28/08/2023

need resources for your own investigative story?

Journalismfund Europe's flexible grants programmes enable journalists to produce relevant public interest stories with a European mind-set from international, national, and regional perspectives.


support independent cross-border investigative journalism

We rely on your support to continue the work that we do. Make a gift of any amount today.