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Banana Farmers Claim Pesticide Caused Chemical Induced Sterility

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More than 170 banana farmers in Ecuador, Panama and Cost Rica filed five federal lawsuits against Dole Food Company, Standard Fruit Company, The Dow Chemical Company, Occidental Chemical Company, AMVAC Chemical Corporation, Shell Oil Company, Chiquita Brands International Inc., Maritrop Trading Corporation and Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc., alleging exposure to a toxic chemical put them at risk for cancer and made them sick and sterile.

The lawsuits claims that the pesticide  dipromochloropropane, or DBCP, sold under the names Fumazone, Nemagon and Oxy 12, was developed by Dow Chemical Co., and Shell and used to protect produce against nematodes, caused varying degrees of sterility and is connected to miscarriage, corneal damage, skin disorders, cancer and renal failure.

The lawsuit explains that “By 1976, DBCP had been identified as a suspected carcinogen by the EPA, even though Dow, Shell, Del Monte and Dole learned of the chemical’s health risks at least 15 years earlier…In July 1977, thirty-five of one hundred fourteen workers who manufactured DBCP at Occidental’s Lathrop, California plant were found to be sterile. One month later, the EPA suspended DBCP from all but a few highly controlled uses in Hawaii. Even in Hawaii, use was permitted only under heavily restricted conditions with extensive protective equipment. Finally, in 1979, the EPA canceled the registration for DBCP for all uses in the United States. Unfortunately, the large-scale use of DBCP on agricultural operations in the United States had already led to extensive groundwater contamination in Hawaii, California, and elsewhere and large stocks on hand.
“The U.S. ban on manufacturing of DBCP, however, did not prevent the defendants from exporting existing stocks of DBCP for use on plantations overseas. When Dow informed Standard that it planned to halt sales and wait for EPA test results, Standard responded by threatening to sue Dow: ‘Your halt of shipping our outstanding orders is viewed as a breach of contract.’ Dow quickly relented after Standard agreed to indemnify Dow against claims for injuries resulting from DBCP use, compelling evidence that Dow expected such injuries to occur.”

The lawsuits seek compensatory and punitive damages and medical monitoring. disclaimer: This article: Banana Farmers Claim Pesticide Caused Chemical Induced Sterility was posted on Monday, June 6th, 2011 at 8:37 pm at and is filed under Toxic Substances Lawsuits.

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