Daily News Archive
From May 9, 2001

DuPont to Remove Benlate from Market

DuPont has announced that their systemic fungicide Benlate will be withdrawn from the market as of the end of 2001, reports the Pesticide Action Network. During the 33 years it has been on the market, Benlate has been repeatedly linked to extensive crop damage and causing adverse health effects.

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.

In 1996, a Florida jury awarded $4.4 million to the family of a child born with underdeveloped eyes after his mother was exposed to Benlate, but the decision was overturned because the judge improperly allowed consideration of evidence of animal studies that showed that Benlate caused birth defects.

As of 1996, DuPont had paid more than one-half billion dollars for property damage due to Benlate. Benlate has been linked to crop damage in at least 23 states. The Florida Department of Agriculture found that Benlate 50DF was conclusively linked to "significant to substantial" crop damage, including stunting, distorted leaf growth and interference with root growth.

In an April 14, 1994 press release, the Commissioner of the Florida Agricultural and Consumer Services (FDACS) confirmed the development of a methodology which detected the sulfonyl urea (SU) herbicide Londax in DuPont's Benlate DF formulations. According to the Commissioner, SUs are "100 times more toxic to plants than any pesticide on the market prior to 1982." As a result, the commissioner filed an administrative action against DuPont for selling adulterated and misbranded pesticides in connection with 1,200 Florida damage cases. According to FDACS, it took two years to uncover the contamination because of (1) DuPont's unwillingness to release documents; and, (2) lack of methodology to detect SUs at minuscule levels.

For more information about Benlate's toxicity and history of causing crop damage, contact Beyond Pesticides/NCAMP at [email protected].