December 12th, 2013
Chiquita Brands International has come under the scope of a Washington-based nonprofit that alleges the company has exposed six communities in Guatemala to toxic, cancer-causing chemicals, Komonews.comreported.
Water and Sanitation Health, Inc. claims that Chiquita has allegedly contamined rivers and drinking water with pesticides, fertilizers, fungicides and other products, explained, organization president Eric Harrison.
“We have environmental standards here in the U.S. — regulations through the EPA — and so when you go down to those other countries like Guatemala, companies can kind of skirt around that and they don’t have the strict standards that we do here,” Harrison told Komonews.com.
“The ultimate goal, hopefully, is to one, change certain practices in banana farming and to provide clean water to these community members … If we can get those two goals done, this lawsuit will be a success.”
Previously, Water and Sanitation Health, Inc. sued Dole for similar reasons.
The case resulted in a settlement with Dole and the creation of the Clean Water Project in Ocós, Guatemala to provide clean water to the local community.
Chiquita spokesman Ed Loyd told Komonews.com that the accusations were a “significant misrepresentation”.
“We’re the only ones in the banana industry that has our own farms that are audited to environmental, social, and labor standards,” he told the news source in a statement.
“We hope to have the opportunity to introduce Mr. Harrison to our operations. And our social responsibilities practices. We are always willing to listen to a stakeholder and work with anyone in a constructive dialogue that supports local communities, and improves the lives of our employees.”