Skip to Content

Plantation Paradox

Food Growers Unable to Grow a Family


Courtney L. McGinnis
Department of Biological Sciences
Quinnipiac University
Jacob M. Laperche
Frank H. Netter M.D. School of Medicine
Quinnipiac University


This interrupted case study was inspired by a real-life scenario, and tells the story of “Luis,” a local banana plantation seasonal worker whose health is impacted by the usage of pesticides on bananas.  With the help of a healthcare team, Luis and his wife become aware of the effects of pesticides on his reproductive health and their ability to have children. Students use their knowledge of the reproductive system and the human body in order to answer the case questions. This case was originally developed for undergraduate anatomy and physiology or toxicology courses. Students are expected to have some background knowledge in male and female reproductive structure and function before starting the case.


  • Define assisted reproductive technologies.
  • Describe different types of assisted reproductive technologies.
  • Explain the role of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), estrogen, luteinizing hormone (LH) and anti- Müllerian hormone (AMH) in female reproductive physiology.
  • Explain the role of male reproductive hormones in maintenance of reproductive health.
  • Differentiate between acute and chronic toxicity.
  • Describe different routes of exposure.
  • Explain the mechanism of action of DBCP.
  • Identify the social injustices described in this case study.


Reproductive toxin; infertility; toxicology; environmental toxin; female reproductive cycle; spermatogenesis; ART; assisted reproductive technology; DBCP; Costa Rica; banana plantation; pesticides

Topical Areas

Social justice issues

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division



Type / Methods




Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Physiology  |   Toxicology  |  

Date Posted


Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.


The following video(s) are recommended for use in association with this case study.

  • Nicaraguan Banana Workers Seek Justice in France
    A short video describing the effect of nemagon on Nicaraguan workers and the attempt to bring lawsuits against the manufacturers of the pesticide. Running time: 1:51 min. Produced by AFP News Agency, 2019.
  • Justice Eludes Migrant Workers Affected by Pesticide
    Susanna Bohme, author of Toxic Injustice: A Transnational History of Exposure and Struggle, discusses some of the major themes of the book and lawsuits around the use of DBCP after it was banned in the United States. Running time: 50:51 min. Produced by WGBH Forum, 2015.