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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.


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).

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Farmworkers poisoned by DBCP (Nemagon), Philippines
State or province:Davao del Norte, Mindanao
Location of conflict:Panabo
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Specific commodities:Fruits and Vegetables
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.

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Type of populationRural
Affected Population:Direct: 40.000 Indirect: unknown
Start of the conflict:1990
Company names or state enterprises:Dow Chemical Company (Dow) from United States of America
Shell Oil Company from United States of America
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 actors:Philippines Supreme Court, Government of Philippines, US courts
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Banana Plantation Workers Association of Tiburcia, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Informal workers
Local ejos
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-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.
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
Other Health impactsSpecific 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-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Proposal and development of alternatives:The 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain: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 & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

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

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

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

[click to view]

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

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

Filipinos seek compensation over banana pesticides
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

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]

Meta information
Contributor:Grettel Navas, ENVJustice Project
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2444
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