Farmworkers poisoned by DBCP (Nemagon), Philippines

For more than 20 years farmers in Philippines who worked in banana plantations were never told they were spreading a hazardous poison. Water and soil still toxic nowadays.


Description
During the 1970s, the pesticide Dibromochloropropane (DCBP, also known as Nemagon and Fumazone) was used extensively on banana and pineapple plantations all over the world including 12 countries along Central America (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panamá, Guatemala and Honduras), the Caribbean (St Vicent, Dominica, and St Lucía), South America (Ecuador) and Asia (Philippines) and Africa (Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast). In Davao (Philippines) the pesticide was used from 1970 to end 1980 causing high levels of sterility and other health (and psychological) damages.  According to Slutsky et al (1999), Philippines is the country where the percentage of workers with azoospermia (absence of sperm, which means sterility) is the highest from all the 12 countries. Sterility is the only impact scientifically proven but other impacts such as cancers, asthma, tuberculosis, skin disease, body pain, tumors and death are other impacts that ex-workers relate with the pestice. In 1993, banana plantation workers from Philippines filed a class-action suit against Dole (the company) demanding justice (medical care and income to live, as they can´t work anymore). In 1999, the Philippine Supreme Court dismissed the case. Years after, a similar case known as Macasa vs. Dole (Macasa is the name of one of the complainants) was submitted in a US court, but again in 2012 the court dismissed the case.  Ex-banana workers also say that soil and water remains toxic due to the DBCP for more than 20 years, impacting not just humans but the entire environment. No scientific studies regarding the impacts on biodiversity have been done. The organisation Bagon Alyansang Makagayan (New Patriotic Alliance) helps the ex-workers to elevate the case to the Human Rights commission in Philippes, they also give support to the ex-workers. most of them have died with no economic compensation. DBCP is banned around the world and is not used anymore, but people remain paying the costs of the banana production in their own bodies and their environment.
Basic Data
NameFarmworkers poisoned by DBCP (Nemagon), Philippines
CountryPhilippines
ProvinceDavao del Norte, Mindanao
SitePanabo
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Agro-toxics
Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Specific CommoditiesFruits and Vegetables
Banana
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
DBCP was a liquid fumigant injected into the ground to kill microscopic worms that destroy the roots of banana trees. The pesticide was sprayed into the air with irrigation guns.
See more...
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected PopulationDirect: 40.000 Indirect: unknown
Start Date1990
Company Names or State EnterprisesDow Chemical Company from United States of America
Shell Oil Company from United States of America
OXY (Occidental Petroleum Corporation) (OXY) from United States of America
Dole Fruit Company from United States of America
Standard Fruit Philippine Co from Philippines
Relevant government actorsPhilippines Supreme Court, Government of Philippines, US courts
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersBanana Plantation Workers Association of Tiburcia, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingInformal workers
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of health damage.
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Other Health impacts
OtherSpecific health impacts from DBCP scientifically proven: Oligospermia (semen with a low concentration of sperm) and Azoospermia (absence of sperm) which means sterility. Not scientifically proven but popular knowledge: cancers, asthma, tuberculosis, skin disease, body pain, tumors, death.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (failure for environmental justice)
Development of AlternativesThe farm workers of the region want justice for all involved. The farm workers and families of the sick and dead want medical care and income to live (survive).
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The workers with Philippine Pioneer Banana Workers Inc (PPBWI) filed law suits against the companies involved with DBCP production and distribution but they haven´t had any compensation or answers.

Philippines remain a banana producer.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Macasa et al. vrs Dole Company
[click to view]

References

Azoospermia and Oligospermia among a Large Cohort of DBCP Applicators in 12 Countries
[click to view]

Links

Philippine banana workers demands answers for pesticide lawsuits
[click to view]

BAYANUSA, NGO.
[click to view]

Agroquímico DBCP: Un fantasma en las bananeras del sur
[click to view]

Filipinos seek compensation over banana pesticides
[click to view]

Media Links

Philippine Farmworkers Poisoned by DBCP Pesticide
[click to view]

Dr. Romeo Quijano talks about Farm Workers exposed to pesticides 47 Minutes (University of Manila)
[click to view]

Other Documents

video of a ex -farmworker
[click to view]

Campaign
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorGrettel Navas, ENVJustice Project
Last update07/11/2016
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