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French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

Chlordecone in the French West Indies: a socio-historical overview

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News of 24/08/2010

24 August 2010

Two studies conducted by scientists from ANSES and INRA shed light on the history of Chlordecone in the French West Indies.

Undertaken as part of the Chlordecone 2008-2010 action plan, the studies aimed to reconstruct the historical facts in the proper order as systematically as possible by means of socio-historical analysis and interpretation. What information was available about this insecticide at different periods? What decisions were taken? What was the sequence of events? Improving our understanding of the history of chlordecone may help us decide on a future joint strategy and programmes for risk management, particularly for populations affected by the intensive use of this compound in Martinique and Guadeloupe between 1970 and 1980.

The French government has implemented a Chlordecone 2008-2010 action plan. INRA and AFSSET (which has now merged with AFSSA to form ANSES) are contributing their scientific resources to various aspects of this action plan, including the creation of the following two studies:

  • "L'autorisation du chlordécone en France 1968-1981", ["Authorisation of chlordecone in France (1968-1981)"], Matthieu Fintz, Anses.
  • "La saga du chlordécone aux Antillles françaises : reconstruction chronologique 1968-2008", ["the story of Chlordecone in the French West Indies: a chronological reconstruction (1968-2008)"], Pierre-Benoit Joly, INRA/SENS (INRA/Science and Society) and IFRIS (French society for social research and innovation).

The intention of this socio-historical reconstruction of chlordecone usage in the West Indies is not to determine who was responsible or to put an end to the debate, but rather to enrich it by drawing historical lessons for risk management. The publication of these studies on www.chlordecone-infos.fr makes information and analyses available to the stakeholders involved in accordance with the principle of transparency underlying the Chlordecone 2008-2010 action plan.

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