The beginning of the oil palm industry in Ecuador dates to the late 1950s. However, it is in the 1990s when the oil palm monocultures expanded largely in the Northern provinces. Since then, large-scale oil palm cultivation has critically damaged the local environment as well as having a negative impact on the health of oil palm workers and the community members who are directly exposed to the agrotoxins in their daily water supplies. Within this context, in 2004 two communities (The Awa indigenous community of Guadalito and the afro-Ecuadorian one La Chiquita) concerned that the oil palm industry was poisoning their bodies and livelihoods, took legal action against four oil palm companies and the Environment Ministry. The lawsuit was supported by scientific data which demonstrated the contamination of water supplies.