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DBCP class action suit, Ecuador


The DBCP was an active ingredient of the pesticides named as Nemagom, Fumazone, and Oxy 12. All of them were widely used in banana plantations throughout the world as it kills microscopic worms on the roots of banana plants. In 1964, the U.S. government approved DBCP for commercial use, and the companies proceeded to market the pesticide. In 1977, 35 workers in a DBCP plant in California were found to be sterile and the U.S banned domestic use if this toxin though not domestic production for export. Therefore, corporations continued using these pesticides on their plantations. As a result of their negative effects on banana workers, in the early 1990s more than 16.000 of them from 11 developing countries (including Ecuador) filed a class-action lawsuit in Texas against a number of U.S fruit and chemical companies asking for compensation for permanent sterility linked to DBCP exposure. From the Ecuadorian counterpart, there were 800 plaintiffs, but over the years most of their suits have been rejected. In 2010 the class-action suit changed to individual suit cases. Currently, there are only 259 plaintiffs left from the countries of Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador in the Louisiana state court. At that moment the trial is ongoing

Basic Data

Name of conflict:DBCP class action suit, Ecuador
State or province:El Oro, Guayas and Azuay
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Agro-toxics
Specific commodities:
Fruits and Vegetables

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The DBCP, 1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane or (dibromochloropropane) better known as DBCP, particularly targets the human endocrine system, which controls all the chemical processes that are critical to the development and functioning of the bodys various anatomical systems

Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:1993
Company names or state enterprises:Dow Chemical Company from United States of America
Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) from Netherlands
Occidental Chemical Company from United States of America
AMVAC Chemical Corporation from United States of America
Dole from United States of America - before Standard Fruit Company, producer and Processing fruit companies In Ecuador and Costa Rica
Chiquita Brands International - before Standards Fruit Company in Panama
Del Monte from United States of America - in Costa Rica
Shell Oil Company from United States of America - United States-based subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Instituto de Estudios Ecuatorianos-IEE (Institute of Ecuadorian Studies)

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Trade unions
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:There is no final judgment on the part of the courts to know whether or not will be environmental justice for the banana workers

Sources and Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Varea, Anamara, Carmen Barrera, Ana mara Maldonado, Lourdes Endara, Byron real, Victoria Reyes, Guillermo Robalino. 1997. Desarrollo Eco-ilogico. Conflictos socioambientales desde la selva hasta el mar. CEDEP/Abya-Yala

ALDEA. 2012. El DBCP Mortal: impactos socio-ambientales y en la salud reproductiva de los trabajadores bananeros de Panam y Ecuador. In: (last accessed June 2, 2012)

ALDEA. 2011. Conflicto socioambiental por uso del DBCP. In: (last access June 2, 2012)

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Asociacion latinoamericana para el Desarrollo Alternativo- ALDEA blog

Other comments:Book by Vicent Boix on DBCP curt cases in Nicaragua and other countries,

Meta information

Contributor:Sara Latorre
Last update13/01/2015