Cost a DBCP? Sterility, cancer

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Two prominent chemical companies and three Us fresh produce companies have been sued by Costa Rica's banana pickers for causing reproductive disorders through pesticide use. The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles against Shell Chemical Company, Dow Chemical Company, Dole Food Company, Chiquita Brands International Inc and Fresh Del Monte Produce Company on October 8, 2004. It charges them with using the pesticide dibromochloropropane (DBCP) in Costa Rica even after it was banned in the US in 1979. It also accuses them of conducting a "settlement campaign' to persuade workers to free them of any liability. The companies allegedly offered to settle sterility claims for US $2,900 to US $6,500 per person.

DBCP is a soil fumigant sold under the brand names of Nemagon and Fumazone. It is suspected of causing sterility, testicular atrophy, miscarriages, birth defects, liver damage and cancer when inhaled or absorbed by the skin. Studies have shown it to be probably the most powerful testicular toxin ever made. It has caused genetic mutations and cancer in every species on which it was tested. The banana pickers have demanded damages for product liability, fraud, negligence and conspiracy but haven't specified the amount. None of the five accused companies have commented on the lawsuit yet.