Ecuadorian shrimp farming firm Desarrollo Industrial Biocuatico (Dibsa), owned by agribusiness companies Seaboard Corp and ContriGroup, is to receive US$10.1m compensation for damages caused by Benlate fungicide. The pesticide dramatically reduced shrimp harvests after poisoning and weakening the crustaceans when it ran off from the banana plantations it was intended for.

The chemicals giant DuPont, which manufactures the pesticide, was ordered by a jury in Fort Lauderdale to pay the damages amid claims that it was negligent, however it revealed in a statement that it refutes the charges and plans to appeal.

The total compensation also contains a US$4m charge for accrued interest since 1994. If DuPont is also ordered to shoulder court costs, the total payment could reach US$20m.

Benlate Fungicide generated annual sales of US$100m for DuPont, however it was withdrawn from the market in 1991, after 30 years, amid other expensive lawsuits claiming destructive contamination.

Countless legal claims from the early 1990s saw DuPont pay out over US$1bn in damages, and Dibsa has said that 29 shrimp farmers’ cases remain outstanding. The remaining trials will be held during the beginning of 2001.