Letter: Heard the one about the Brussels banana?

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BRIAN Cathcart's humorous piece on the European Union's 'short banana' directive ('The measure of a good banana', 25 September) left me, a staunch Euro-watcher and occasional banana eater, feeling uneasy. Was it an unintentional slip that the writer ended with the remark that all the listed Euro- nonsense was apocryphal except for the noise limit on lawn-mowers? Not so, even according to his own text. When asked whether there was an anti-short-banana directive, Brussels is quoted as replying 'Yes, but . . .' followed by some explanatory noises.

As far as I know, the only part of the EU where bananas are grown in any quantity is the Canary Islands, where the typical local banana is as short as they come. The Canaries are already beset with unemployment, and this (seemingly daft) directive would make things worse by removing the main market for their short bananas at a stroke.

Why would 'Brussels' want to do any such thing? Well, in the background you have the Gatt agreements which seek to re-organise world trade around macro-economic strategies, and agreements on imports of bananas are in fact alluded to in the article. An additional reason surely must be the Bland- Ubiquitous-Rubbery-Product marketing strategy (BURP), which short Canary bananas just don't fit into - they are to our usual jumbo bananas what garden-grown strawberries are to the swollen supermarket variety. So (given there may be macro-motives swirling around the humblest of fruit and the jokiest of journalism) could I just say: Brussels, no sizism please, and don't sweet-talk us, just give us the facts.

David Sutcliffe

Barcelona, Spain

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