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Group calls for boycott of Del Monte products

June 28, 2008 4:27pm
MANILA, Philippines - A local environmental group called on consumers to boycott products made by Del Monte Philippines Inc, a company that owned toxic pesticide cargo transported by a ship which later capsized.

In a statement, Kalikasan-PNE (People’s Network for the Environment) said that Del Monte Philippines—the local unit of the world’s largest pineapple producer—should be held accountable “for endangering the lives of many people by transporting a toxic chemical inside a passenger vessel."

Likewise, it condemned Sulpicio Lines, the owner and operator of MV Princess of the Stars, a passenger ship that carried the toxic shipment together with some 700 people, many of whom died after the vessel keeled over off Romblon.

“We encourage people to avoid buying the products of Del Monte particularly their fruit products which are produced with toxic chemicals like endosulfan," Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan-PNE national coordinator, said. “This illegal and irresponsible act of Sulpicio and Del Monte Philippines should not be tolerated and should be castigated by all of us."

Citing scientific reports, the group said that endosulfan is extremely toxic to aquatic life and known to cause fish kill if release to water bodies.

Besides Sulpicio and Del Monte, the group also said that “corrupt bureaucrats in the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA), Maritime Industry Authority and Philippine Coast Guard should be held accountable for their negligence."

“Del Monte’s endosulfan toxic shipment could not have been loaded into a passenger ship without the knowledge and connivance of government officials. If the MV Princess shipwreck tragedy did not happen, this crime would not be exposed," the group said.

Earlier reports said that the government—through the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority—approved DMPI’s use of endosulfan.

The same report said that Sulpicio Lines loaded DMPI’s toxic shipment in the ill-fated vessel without its knowledge and consent.

"While this cargo is owned by Del Monte Philippines Inc., it was still en route for delivery to Del Monte and was therefore outside its control at the time of the accident," the company said in a statement.

"Upon learning that our cargo was loaded in the ill-fated [vessel], we immediately informed the FPA," DMPI said.

"We want to assure the public that we in DMPI are responsible corporate citizens and we are just as concerned with the environment and are actively assisting the authorities in addressing this pressing situation," the company added.- GMANews.TV