San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica plantation workers sue 3 banana companies over pesticide use

More than 1,000 banana plantation workers from Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panama are suing Dow Chemical Co., Dole Food Co. and Fresh Del Monte Produce over alleged injuries from pesticide use, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

The chemical dibromochloropropane (DBCP) was used until 1977 on banana plantations all over the world. It has been linked to a series of health problems, Bloomberg noted, including sterility, miscarriages, birth defects, cancer and kidney damage, among others. The Bloomberg report cited eight separate complaints filed since May 31 in a federal court in the U.S. state of Delaware.

The pesticide, banned in the U.S. in 1979, was used to eliminate invasive worms, but workers wore no protective clothing and were not aware of the health risks, plaintiffs argue.

Bloomberg noted that more than 16,000 Latin American workers have sued in U.S. courts over the chemical’s use in the past two decades, but judges dismissed most cases, saying that workers should sue in their home countries’ courts.

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