Daily News Archive
From August 16, 2001

DuPont Must Pay $29.5 million in Damages Caused by Benlate to Costa Rican Nurseries

On August 10, 2001, a jury ruled that DuPont, a multinational corporation that manufactures pesticides and other toxic chemicals, must pay two Costa Rican growers, Producturas de Semillas and Palmas & Bambu, $29.5 million for plant damage caused by the fungicide Benlate. DuPont no longer manufactures the fungicide and recently announced that this systematic fungicide would be removed from the market by the end of 2001 after years of crop damage. Existing stocks are still on the market.

According to the Associated Press, the jury deliberated 9 1/2 hours before finding for the growers in the racketeering allegations against the world's largest chemical maker. The five-week trial was the first time DuPont faced racketeering charges before a jury over Benlate, which is blamed for killing, deforming and damaging nursery plants, especially in moist, humid climates.

DuPont said the verdict was a product of juror confusion caused by rulings that excluded key evidence in the case.

According to the Farm Chemicals Handbook, Benlate, a formulation of benomyl, is toxic to fish although it is placed in toxicity category IV, for low acute toxicity. It has been tied to chronic birth defects and cancer, and it is listed as an endocrine disruptor. Some of the children whose parents have sued DuPont over the years were born with too small or missing eyes. According to The News Journal (May 29,1999) a Delaware newspaper, DuPont had spent at least $1 billion on litigation on Benlate, but continued to assert that the chemical does not cause health problems. Benlate has been linked to crop damage in at least 23 U.S. states.