Corporate Crimes:Du Pont,Agent Orange & Monsanto

“We will never compromise our core values – safety and environmental excellence, integrity, high ethical standards and treating people fairly and with respect. They are our foundation. We must continually strive to find ways to enhance them.”[1]

However critics of the company see them in a somewhat different light:
“The business of Du Pont has been dangerous from the start”
Philip Mattera, World Class Business, 1992[2]

“The company has consistently treated the long-term interests of humanity as largely irrelevant” Curtis Moore, Former Counsel to the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works,[3]

There is hardly a single chemical toxin in which DuPont has not played a major role in developing. “The company pioneered the production of sulphur dioxide, leaded petrol, CFC’s and recently deep well injection of hazardous waste. The company then used dubious science, political manipulation and cover up to avoid restrictions on their use.” [4] During its 200 years of existence, DuPont has committed a staggering amount of corporate crimes (far too many to mention here). The following section contains just a selection of these.
Arms manufacturing

DuPont began life as a gunpowder company and has made an incredible amount of money from arms manufacturing over the course of its existence (see History). The company has made major contributions to the development of plastic and other forms of explosives, gun and rocket propellants, chemical warfare and the atomic bomb.[5] The 1996 International Defence Directory cites DuPont as providing synthetic plastics, rubber and textiles to the defence industry.[6] According to the Ethical Matters magazine website, DuPont was one of the companies that manufactured the defoliant Agent Orange that devastated human health and the environment in Vietnam. The company also ran chemical warfare plants for the US government.[7]
Control of the food chain

Attempting to monopolise food production
Now the largest seed company in the world, DuPont is exerting increasingly more control over the human food chain. The company supplies seeds, agricultural inputs and also owns food-processing technologies. Recently Dupont and Monsanto decided to live in sync by sharing their proprietary agricultural biotechnologies with one another. The decision was met with alarm by the ETC Group, which believes that the quasi-merger will result in less choice for farmers, at the same or higher prices. Hope Shand, Research Director at the ETC, expressed concern that the companies “are being allowed to create global technology cartels that run below the radar screens of anti-trust regulators.”[8]

In 2000, the Foundation on Economic Trends and the National Family Farm Coalition filed a lawsuit against DuPont and other GM seed producers, on behalf of both U.S. and international farmers who purchased genetically modified (GM) corn and/or soybeans, as well as farmers engaged in farming non-GM crops in the 1999-2000 growing season. They allege that the company was involved in a global cartel engaged in biotech product price-fixing. According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, a 1996 internal Monsanto document known as the “Maize Protection Business Plan” describes how Monsanto, DuPont, Dow Chemical, Novartis and AstraZeneca amongst others, formed a global cartel to monopolise and restrain trade in the GM seed market, effectively precluding additional competitors from entering the marketplace. [9]

Biopiracy and patenting
DuPont owns over 20,000 worldwide patents and over 14,000 worldwide patent applications. In 2001, it was granted almost 500 U.S. patents and over 1,800 international patents.[10] The company has been branded by Greenpeace as the “World-wide leader in biopiracy of plant genetic resources”. ‘Biopiracy’ is the term used to describe the patenting of genes, by private companies, that were originally selected for by indigenous people, using traditional breeding methods. Many developing countries regard this as the theft of their genetic resources, and biopiracy has become an extremely contentious issue in recent years. Greenpeace has accused DuPont of using ‘tricky patents’ (i.e. passing off items as their ‘inventions’ when they quite clearly aren’t) in an attempt to gain control over the most important food crops. They observe that DuPont has “a natural interest both in owning and exploiting plant genetic material, mostly derived from developing countries, and in replacing farmers’ own local varieties with few patented crops – and their often associated inputs.”[11]

A number of cases of DuPont abusing patent law have come to light recently. These include a patent application accepted by the European Patent Office in August 2000 (Patent EP 744888). This covers all maize plants containing over 50% oil, including those produced by traditional breeding methods. The patent also covers any use of these maize varieties, including cultivation, harvesting, and processing, whether for food, animal fodder or industrial use. By obtaining this patent DuPont has managed to pass off any such varieties of maize as its invention. This is despite the fact that such varieties already exist in Latin America, having been obtained through traditional breeding techniques. According to the Mexico based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), “this patent may considerably impede the development of maize varieties in Latin America.” Dr Sukestoshi Taba from CIMMYT states that the patent could “seriously discourage further research on maize oil content if it is not challenged.”[12]

According to Greenpeace, the maize patent application is just one example of a systematic strategy that DuPont is using to gain control of the most important food crops. Other ‘tricky patents’ that DuPont has filed based on fake ‘inventions’ include:
Describing special plant ingredients (e.g. protein or oil) and claiming all genetic resources with these characteristics.
Changing certain details in hybrid breeding processes and claiming all resulting seeds and plants.
Using cell culture techniques to reproduce plant genetic material and claiming all genetic resources with given characteristics.
Isolating genes in genome databanks and claiming gene sequences as their inventions.
Transferring foreign genes into existing varieties, then claiming all plants and seeds with the inserted genes.[13]

Dupont has also faced heavy criticism for it patenting of the oncomouse – a mouse genetically engineered to carry a cancer-causing gene.[14]

 

Genetically modified (GM) crops
DuPont is shifting a substantial portion of its research and production capacity into what is feared to be a dangerous new form of pollution – the release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment. According to A SEED, the company is currently playing a double tune: at the market level it is attempting to capture crop markets lost by GM crop companies due to lack of consumer confidence, whilst simultaneously moving heavily into GM seeds.[15]

One of the main arguments of GM-proponents is that GM crops are no different to crossbred varieties, which we have had for thousands of years. However, there are some distinct processes, now known as genetic engineering, which, unlike the creation of hybrids and other crossbred varieties, cannot be carried out by farmers. For example, farmers can not exchange genes between different species. On its website DuPont attempts to confuse the issue by suggesting that Pioneer Hi-Bred has been supplying farmers with genetically engineered maize since the 1970s. (http://heritage.dupont.com/touchpoints/tp_1999/overview.shtml) This appears like a deliberate attempt to convince the public that genetic engineering is the same as crossbreeding and therefore to be accepted, and it is a confusion we could do without.

DuPont has been criticised for its use of terminator technology. Terminator has been widely condemned as an immoral technology that threatens global food security, especially for the 1.4 billion people who depend on farm-saved seed. According to Julie Delahanty of the ETC Group, companies such as DuPont are trying to gain market acceptance for seed sterility as a biosafety tool. This will give them “carte blanche to use it as a monopoly tool for maximising seed industry profits” she argues.[16]

In 1999 Deutsche Bank analysts pointed out that for DuPont “there is more to biotechnology than just ag-biotechnology used for crops to feed humans and/or animals.” The analysts also predicted that “GMO cotton and other fiber crops, which will not enter the food chain, will not draw the attention or focus that corn and soybeans have.” DuPont aims to get 25 percent of its raw materials from biomaterials by 2010, a large portion through the next generation of GMO crops. [17]

Functional Foods
DuPont has been criticised for its marketing of highly processed food products as ‘healthy’.
“Functional foods are about marketing, not health” asserts Professor Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University “My concern is that functional foods will distract people from eating healthy diets and encourage companies to market absurd products as health foods because they contain one or another single nutrient.”[18]
Working conditions

Union Busting
Historically, DuPont was strongly anti-union. In the 1930s, the company crushed any attempts at worker unionisation. Later, DuPont created a series of company-dominated employee-associations.[19] However, the company now claims to have improved its record dramatically.[20]

Health and Safety
DuPont has a miserable environmental health and safety record and, in the past, has frequently run afoul of occupational safety and health laws.[21] In 1987, the New Jersey Supreme Court found that DuPont had deliberately concealed medical records identifying that several workers were suffering illnesses related to asbestos exposure. The same year, DuPont’s then subsidiary Consolidation Coal was cited for ‘reckless disregard’ in reporting worker injuries. Consolidation Coal was also among a group of coal companies fined for falsifying air samples provided to federal inspectors testing for conditions that could cause black lung disease.[22]

In 1999 the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined DuPont $70,000 for Health and Safety record keeping violations at its Seaford DE plant in the US. The company was also ordered to implement a series of Health and Safety improvements. Health and Safety records at the site were investigated in response to a complaint filed by an employee, whose cumulative trauma injury was not acknowledged by the company as work-related. It was found that the company failed to record 117 occupational injury and illness cases during 1997 and 1998 that should have been recorded and that certain cases of injury and illness were recorded incorrectly. [23]

Using prison labour
According to Transnational Obsevatory, DuPont is one of the companies in the US that use prison labour.[24]

Ripping off pensioners
DuPont has been recently been criticised for redesigning its U.S. health-care plan. This has dramatically increased the premiums for the company’s approximately 61,000 retirees and surviving spouses aged 65 and older.[25]

Genetic Screening
In the early 1980s, DuPont was reported to have tested thousands of US workers to determine if any of their genes made them vulnerable to certain chemicals in the workplace.[26] The company also apparently gave blood tests to all black job applicants to determine which were carriers of sickle-cell anaemia.[27]

Moving production to the developing world

DuPont has been criticised in the Multinational Monitor magazine for moving parts of its production to developing countries such as India, where labour is cheaper and environmental laws less strict.[28] The company has also been heavily criticised in the magazine for ignoring the rights of indigenous people in the areas in which it operates.[29] According to the company’s 2001 SEC filing, it has major plants in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Brazil, China and Argentina.[30]

Supporting oppressive regimes
According to the company’s website dated January 9th 2002, DuPont owns subsidiaries in Bosnia, China, Columbia, Croatia, Egypt, Indonesia, the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Yugoslavia. These countries are all classified by Ethical Consumer magazine as oppressive regimes. Their classification is based on a ranking system devised by the Observer newspaper, and is based on a range of indicators such as ‘use of torture, political prisoners, denial of religious freedoms and extra-judicial killings.’[31]

DuPont’s expansion into Turkey has been partially financed by the IFC (the International Finance Corporation – a branch of the World Bank). The IFC provided a loan $22.5million for the Dusa 2 Nylon expansion project, the primary sponsors of which are DuPont and the Sabanci group of Turkey.[32]

DuPont’s nylon plant in Goa
DuPont was voted one of the Worst Companies of 1995 by Multinational Monitor because of its activities in Goa, India. In 1985 DuPont formed a partnership with the Indian company Thapar to build a $217 million factory to make nylon 6,6 (a tyre ingredient) in the uplands of Goa. This venture set out on the wrong foot as far as community relations were concerned. The investors managed to get the State Economic Development Corporation to take over the factory site from a co-operative and then lease it to Thapar-DuPont Ltd. (TDL) in exchange for a State stake in the enterprise.[33]

Since industrial chemical concerns had been heightened in India since Union Carbide’s Bhopal disaster, TDL took out a full page advertisement in a local newspaper, proclaiming: “We will not handle, use, sell, transport, or dispose of a product unless we can do it in an environmentally sound manner.” What the advertisement neglected to say was that DuPont’s contract with TDL exempted it from liability for environmental claims or a Bhopal-style industrial accident.[34]

Activists from the environmental group the Goa Foundation managed to intercept an electronic message from DuPont to Goan project manager Sam Singh. The message acknowledged that the company had not taken appropriate measures to ensure four critical types of pollution control for the plant: groundwater protection, waste water treatment, solid waste recycling and air pollution control. Indian activists also acquired information concerning the hazardous chemicals that TDL was planning to use at the Goa facility and decided that they did not want the company as a neighbour. They first stormed the construction site in October 1994. Despite police repression, the protests continued into January 1995, when protesters refused to allow a bus load of US DuPont officials onto the factory site. Police responded by opening fire, killing 25 year-old Nilesh Naik. Naik’s funeral was held at the factory site. Before his funeral pyre was lit, somebody blew up the factory’s electricity generator.[35]

Finally getting the message, TDL began negotiating to reopen the factory elsewhere. In June 1995, it signed a memorandum of understanding with the state of Tamil Nadu to relocate the factory near Madras. S.N. Krishnan, the plant director, told the Indian paper Frontline that in the new plant 95% of the effluents would be recycled for use by the plant (compared to 70% at the Goan plant). Opposition in Tamil Nadu focussed on environmental concerns as well as the incentives that the State offered the company. These included: 150 acres of land, electricity at one-third of the usual industrial rate, a commitment of one million gallons of water a day and other subsidies and tax concessions.[36] In 1999 DuPont decided to cease Nylon production in India altogether, citing financial concerns as the reason for the decision.[37]

Endangering the public’s health

Numerous DuPont products and the pollution caused by their production have been implicated in a range of different health problems, including cancer and birth defects (see also Pollution).
DuPont has faced criticism for endangering the health of both its employees and the public (see also Working Conditions).

According to the Working Group on the Community’s Right to Know, a 1998 analysis of ten DuPont chemical plants shows that up to seven million people in surrounding communities are at risk from potential worst-case chemical accidents. The analysis of the plants’ hazards addressed three chemicals commonly associated with chemical accidents -chlorine, ammonia, and hydrofluoric acid.[38]
Irresponsible waste disposal
DuPont has an appalling record of irresponsible waste disposal although it is impossible to quantify how many people’s lives have been adversely affected by the company’s dash for profits at any cost.

In 1990 it was revealed that a former DuPont landfill site, in Newport, New Castle County, Delaware had contaminated the groundwater both on and off the site, with heavy metals, including barium, cadmium, and zinc, as well as trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the pollution potentially threatened the water supply of 131,000 people.[39]

DuPont is one of the companies that operates in what has become known as “Chemical Valley” in Sarnia, Ontario. Chemicals discharged into the St. Clair River from this site include mercury, chlorinated organics, volatile hydrocarbons, PCBs and lead. The high levels of birth defects and cancer among indigenous residents on Walpoe Island have been attributed to pollution from the site.[40]

In 1998 DuPont was ordered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to carry out a $65 million clean up of its Necco Park landfill site near Niagara Falls. This was necessary due to concerns regarding hazardous liquid seepage from the site.[41]

Pesticide production
Some of the chemicals used in pesticides produced and marketed by DuPont have been linked to brain damage and disruption of the hormone system. [42] The company has also faced a string of lawsuits in recent years, brought by parents whose children were born without eyes. These defects are alleged to have occurred due to the children’s mothers being exposed to the fungicide Benlate whilst pregnant (See Benlate).[43]

In 1994 DuPont agreed to phase out its toxic herbicide Cyanazine by 1999, when the US EPA discovered that it and other related herbicides were contaminating drinking water in parts of the US.[44] DuPont’s Sulfonylurea (SU) Herbicides, which it bills as environmentally sound and cost-effective, have also been found to be toxic according to studies by the US EPA and the National Coalition against the Misuse of Pesticides. These chemicals may also contaminate surface and ground waters, due to their high solubility in water and low soil absorption.[45]

DuPont has been criticised for exporting pesticides to developing countries, such as DDT, aldrin, clordane, and clorobenzolate, that have been banned in the US. However, even pesticides that are considered scientifically ‘safe’ can be dangerous in these areas. Due high illiteracy levels, farmers may ignore, or not understand, warning labels or instructions for proper use. Pesticides applied in too large doses, or to the wrong crops result in lethal consequences.[46] DuPont was recently fined $1.89 million by the US EPA for shipping pesticides on 380 occasions, without adequate labelling specifying that protective eyewear should be used when handling the product.[47]

Lead paint
The company is one of several facing dozens of lawsuits seeking recovery of lead paint damage and cleanup costs. State, county and local governments in New Jersey and Rhode Island in the US argue that lead paint manufacturers should have known and warned of health dangers.[48]

Formaldehyde
DuPont is a major producer of formaldehyde. This chemical is a known carcinogen and is also implicated in other health problems such as respiratory illness. Despite this, DuPont has vigorously fought efforts to get the chemical banned, using spurious science and disinformation. It is one of the companies that provided funding for the Formaldehyde Institute, a corporate front group set up to defend the chemical (see Influencing Research and Education).[49]

Dioxins
DuPont and other chemical companies have been accused of trying to suppress evidence regarding the severe toxicity of dioxins, hardly surprising given the quantities of these carcinogens they churn out every year. [50] Recently, residents in Mississippi, in the US, threatened a $3 billion lawsuit against DuPont, claiming damage from dioxin pollution. The pollution was left in wastes similar to those found piled near DuPont’s Edge Moor titanium dioxide plant in Delaware in 2001, for which the US EPA is forcing DuPont to pay approximately $12.4 million in remediation costs.[51]

Pollution
(see also Endangering the public’s health)

DuPont has an appalling pollution record and is responsible for the production of a wide range of polluting chemicals. In 1999 DuPont was listed by the US Public Interest Research Groups as one of the ‘Dirty Five’ – the five biggest polluters in the US – that together spent $6,523,677 over the period 1991-1998 in lobbying Congress, the House of Representatives and Superfund-related committees in order to prevent stricter legislation (see Influence).

In 1996 DuPont’s proposal to dispose of 85 tons of toxic pollutants a year into the Guadalupe River in Texas prompted a local shrimper, Dianne Wilson, to go on hunger strike for 31 days. The proposal related to a DuPont facility, which already disposed of 20 million gallons of wastewater a day, mainly through seven underground injection wells. Ms Wilson argued that “DuPont’s decision to begin toxic discharge into the Guadalupe River threatens an already sick bay. There is no need for this. Zero discharge is possible right now. All I am asking is that DuPont do a feasibility study to find out what it would take to achieve zero wastewater discharge from its Victoria plant.” DuPont however refused to accede to Wilson’s demands. This is despite the fact that independent research has demonstrated that virtually any petrochemical plant can go to zero water discharge with an additional capital investment of about 2 percent. [52]

In March 1991, the area around DuPont’s Quimica Fluor plant in Matamoros, Mexico, was judged so toxic that the Mexican President ordered 30,000 people to give up their homes in order to create a two mile buffer zone around the site. The company paid $2.16 million to nearby farmers whose crops were damaged by toxic releases.[53]

Oil exploration
Although DuPont has now sold its oil subsidiary Conoco, in the past this company was responsible for its fair share of environmental devastation and had an appalling Health and Safety record.[54] Since DuPont today still remains heavily dependent on the oil industry to provide it with the raw materials of its business, the company must shoulder its share of the blame for the atrocities committed by its suppliers.

Global warming and carbon trading
Through its production of energy intensive petrochemical-based synthetic fibres, DuPont is a major contributor to global warming.[55] The company produces large quantities of the greenhouse gases CO2, N2O (which has 310 times the warming effect of CO2), HFCs and PFCs[56]. DuPont is also reported to have provided funding for the Global Climate Coalition, a global fossil-fuel lobby set up by Burson-Marsteller in 1989 in an attempt to discredit scientific evidence for global warming.[57]

More recently, DuPont has been making a small fortune at the taxpayers expense through the new UK emissions trading scheme. This year the company looks set to walk away with £26.7 million of taxpayers’ money by bidding in emissions targets that have already been met as a result of regulatory requirements. According to the ENDS Report, the company looks set to meet its emissions target without lifting a finger and stands to make millions more by selling emissions credits of “dubious integrity”.[58]

3 case studies:

The following three examples show just how far DuPont is prepared to go to keep its toxic products on the market, regardless of their detrimental effects on human health and the environment.

· Tetraethyl lead
In the 1920s DuPont and General Motors developed tetraethyl lead, also known as ethyl, to help car engines run more smoothly (see History and Strategy). The product has been labelled by the World Health Organisation as “the mistake of the 20th Century”.[59] The lead ingredient of leaded petrol, TEL is said to account for 80-90% of all environmental lead contamination and is known to retard the mental development of children, cause hypertension in adults and impair coordination.[60] According to Curtis Moore, former counsel to US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, leaded gasoline “has irrevocably damaged the intelligence of two generations of American children and is responsible for 50,000 deaths a year by heart attack and stroke”.[61]

The chemical was discovered to be dangerous to human health quite early on. In 1924, reports broke out that 80 percent of workers involved in the production of TEL at DuPont and Standard Oil plants had been killed or severely poisoned. When TEL was pulled off the market, DuPont ran a series of advertisements in Life magazine, and managed to reverse the decision after a hearing in which it called TEL an “apparent Gift of God”. To entrench its market position, DuPont introduced a new car engine that ran only on leaded petrol. The product was finally banned half a century later, after scientists conclusively proved its detrimental affects. In December 1988, the US Department of Justice sought to collect $9.2 million from DP for illegally blending excessively high levels of lead into gasoline between 1983-1985.[62]

Once banned in the US in the 1980s, DuPont exported TEL to other countries where it was not banned. With Pemex, the Mexican Oil Company, it exported TEL to Latin America. DuPont finally sold its 40% shares in the production plant in Coatzalcoalcos, Mexico in 1992. According to the Council on Economic Priorities 1993 report on DuPont, the company has “aggressively promoted the use of leaded gasoline”.[63]

· Ozone depletants (CFCs, HCFCs)
“The parallel’s between DuPont’s handling of CFCs and Ethyl are striking. Both were invented by the same team in the same lab at roughly the same time…the DuPont company adopted similar strategies to maintain sales of these environmentally hazardous products. In both cases, DuPont answered critics’ concerns about health and environmental hazards with bold faced denials.”
Curtis Moore, Multinational Monitor, 3/1990[64]

CFCs were developed and patented by DuPont in the 1930s. In 1993, the company supplied 25% of the global CFC market and almost 50% of the US market. When ozone depletion was identified in 1974, DuPont was prominent in downplaying the scientific findings and in “orchestrating a political campaign to forestall regulation.”[65] At the same time the company was investing in researching alternatives. To strengthen the commercial sector drive for a non-regulatory approach, DuPont used its network to establish the Alliance for Responsible CFC Policy.[66] However, as the threat of federal legislation died down with the Reagan Administration, DuPont put a stop to its $3-4 million research programme for alternatives.[67]

In 1988, when pressure against the use of CFCs again began to mount, DuPont pledged to cease CFC production by 2000. As part of its solution strategy, the company put forward two of its products – Hydrochloroflourocarbons (HCFCs) and Hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) as substitutes for CFCs. At the time, neither of these chemicals were regulated by the Montreal Protocol or the US Environmental Protection Agency. HCFCs, however, have proven to be ozone depleters and greenhouse gases, while HFCs are potent greenhouse gases. As HCFCs and HFCs began to be criticised for their environmental effects, DuPont once again launched a multi-pronged strategy to ensure weak regulation and a distant phase-out.[68]

According to a 1996 Third World Network (TWN) report, DuPont will continue to manufacture CFCs in the US and other industrialised countries for export to the less-industrialised world until 2010. The company will also continue the use of HCFCs in industrialised countries until 2030, with no termination date set for less industrialised countries. The company is still also involved in the production of HFCs. [69] According to Jack Doyle from TWN “DuPont is probably most culpable for stringing out the CFC era for its own business reasons and for delaying a shift to safe alternatives.”[70]

· Benlate
On April 19th 2001 DuPont announced that by the end of the year it would stop selling the fungicide Benlate, after 33 years on the market. The company cited the high legal cost of defending the product as the reason for its decision. Litigation and settlement charges relating to the compound have cost the company approximately $1 billion over the last ten years. DuPont has set aside additional money to cover future losses and litigation expenses, bringing the total financial cost to $1.3 billion dollars.[71]

DuPont’s problems with the fungicide began in 1992 when it recalled its Benlate 50DF fungicide, in response to complaints from more than 2,100 US growers that the chemical had ruined their crops and land. The fungicide is believed to have been contaminated with a herbicide. By November of that year the company had paid more than $510 million in damages. The company then abruptly stopped payments however, claiming that its own tests showed that Benlate could not have caused the damage. As a result, more than 400 lawsuits were filed against the company in 21 states. Since then the company has been reprimanded five times by US for abusive litigation tactics and misconduct, including concealing evidence that supported the growers’ claims. DuPont was accused of shredding documents, destroying dead and dying plants, mislabelling documents and producing illegible records in an effort to withhold the results.[72]

In one of the cases US District Court Judge J. Robert Elliot fined DuPont $115 million. In his decision Elliot wrote that “Put in layperson’s terms DuPont cheated…and it cheated deliberately and with purpose.”[73] In August 2001, a Florida jury found the company liable under Florida’s racketeering statute (this allows plaintiffs to recover treble damages where they can prove a continuing pattern of fraud) and for product defect involving alleged crop damage. Plaintiffs are seeking to have judgement entered for about $88.5 million. As of 2001, DuPont plans to appeal.[74]

Twenty-eight cases are also pending against DuPont in the State Court in Broward County, Florida. These cases were brought by Ecuadorian shrimp farmers, who allege that Benlate run-off from banana plantations poisoned their shrimp farms. The company lost two cases to the shrimp farmers in the autumn of 2000 and in early 2001, and was ordered to pay $10.2 million and $12.3 million respectively. The company has appealed both cases. DuPont contends that the injuries alleged are attributable to a virus, Taura Syndrome Virus, and in no way involved Benlate. The untried cases are on hold awaiting resolution by the appellate court of the case tried in 2000.[75]

There are also concerns about the impact of Benlate on human health. The company has faced a string of lawsuits in recent years, brought by parents whose children were born without eyes. These defects are alleged to have occurred due to the children’s mothers being exposed to the fungicide Benlate whilst pregnant.[76] Reports in the UK from the Pesticides Trust indicate that the fungicide can cause eye birth defects at high dose exposure.[77]

The whole Benlate affair is a constant headache to DuPont, with approximately 110 cases pending and no end in site. Nevertheless the company still purports that “Benlate did not cause the damages alleged in these cases” and “denies the allegations of fraud and misconduct.”[78]Source

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