Crustacean Disputation

A shrimpy Ecuadorian company wants DuPont to stop spoiling its H20

Does that mean there's Benlate in the water? Such a direct question is not in the parlance of high-paid lawyers doing battle in court. DIBSA claims it found chemical residue typical of Benlate in its ponds. DuPont lawyers questioned the finding, pointing out that there are many other pesticides besides Benlate in use on the banana farms. Intriago "said a lot of things helpful to us," DuPont spokesman Ricciuto says. "There are a great many pesticides that are a million times more toxic to shrimp. Benlate was considered one of the least toxic. Virtually all pesticides can have a toxic effect."

DuPont contends that Taura syndrome is caused by a virus, not exposure to Benlate. There is some science to back this up -- a 1995 article in the journal Diseases of Aquatic Organisms supports the viral hypothesis.

W. Kelley Lucas

DIBSA argues the pesticides harm the shrimp's immune systems. "If I gave you an analogy, it is like HIV in humans," says Campbell. "It breaks down the immune system so any type of virus, pathogen, or bacteria eats [the shrimp] up." Indeed DuPont never assessed the potential for harm on this particular species of shrimp, he adds. "They went into countries and didn't do any type of testing." The big-stakes battle over little crustaceans is likely to continue for at least another two weeks.

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