DuPont to stop making, selling fungicide linked to ruined crops

Thursday, April 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) _ The DuPont Co. said Thursday that it will no longer make the fungicide Benlate, citing the cost of defending itself against lawsuits blaming the chemical for ruining crops.

DuPont has paid more than $1 billion in settlements and legal fees related to Benlate. Last year, the company took a 6 cents per share charge to establish a litigation fund to fight the lawsuits.

DuPont has maintained that Benlate is not responsible for crop damage.

On Feb. 27, a Miami jury decided that DuPont must pay an Ecuadorean shrimp farm $12.3 million because Benlate flowing off banana plantations poisoned shrimp, making them susceptible to disease.

And in June, DuPont was ordered to pay $100.3 million to a pair of Texas fruit companies that claimed their crops were killed by a powdered form of Benlate.

James C. Borel, vice president and general manager of DuPont's division of Crop Protection Products, said the legal costs were a ``significant element'' behind the decision to stop making Benlate by Dec. 31.