Dole Food Company has announced the settlement of 16 of the 25 US lawsuits by foreign farm workers claiming injuries from alleged exposure to the agricultural chemical DBCP.

The cases, one of which had been due to go to trial in Galveston, Texas next month, were in countries that Dole and its subsidiaries operated in more than 20 years ago.

Dole's executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary Michael Carter said: "We are pleased with this successful continuation of our programme of resolving outstanding DBCP claims. As we announced on 23 October 2006, Standard Fruit de Honduras, SA, the Government of Honduras and representatives of Honduran banana workers reached agreement to establish a Honduran Worker Program to resolve the claims of male banana workers alleging sterility as a result of exposure to DBCP. The lawsuit settlements announced today build on that success.

 "Although there is no reliable scientific basis for alleged injuries from the agricultural field application of DBCP, Dole has continued to seek reasonable resolution of the pending claims."

The settlements will not have a material effect on Dole's financial condition or results of operations, the fruit company added.