Sreelatha Menon, Business Standard, May 2, 2008
On its part, Dow Chemicals has said the “issue has been thoroughly investigated and disciplinary action taken”.
“Some individuals did not follow Dow’s Code of Business Conduct and we will not tolerate employees who engage in unethical behavior. Once we learned of this situation involving a joint-venture subsidiary of Dow AgroSciences (formerly DE-Nocil), we took action,” Scot Wheeler, director, communications, of Dow Chemicals told Business Standard.
However, Dow’s statement also blamed the Indian officials concerned. It said: “During that period (1996 to 2001) Indian pesticide regulators demanded payments to advance pesticide registration applications filed by De-Nocil as the joint venture sought to introduce several crop protection products into the Indian market.”
The statement also said these products were already being sold in many developed nations around the world and extensive scientific research attested to their safety for human health and the environment.
The statement, however, did not mention the fact that Dursban, one of the three pesticides being promoted in India, was banned for commercial use in the United States. In 2003, Eliot Spitzer, the then New York Attorney General, fined Dow AgroSciences $2 million for advertising safety claims about its pesticide products in New York between 1995 and 2003.
The penalty is the largest enforcement penalty ever obtained in a pesticide case. Dow said Dow AgroSciences has its own people dealing with the issue who would be in a position to explain this.
Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan said a company that has been a proven offender in its own country should be blacklisted.
Dow Chemicals is also the owner of Union Carbide Corporation, which it bought in 1999. The Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal was responsible for a lethal gas leak in 1984 that killed thousands of people.