Chiquita Brands International tells Environmental Leader that it’s considering filing a counter suit against a nonprofit group that has sued Chiquita for deceptive advertising, alleging that the company “advertises that its bananas are farmed in an ecologically friendly and sustainable manner.”
The lawsuit, filed by Seattle-based Water and Sanitation Health (WASH), alleges Chiquita’s millions of pounds of bananas are produced in ways that harm ecosystems and contaminate water supplies. It states that drinking and river water near the plantation have become polluted from the use of pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers, and has contaminated the drinking water in six local communities, affecting some 7,200 Guatemalan residents.
A company spokesman tells Environmental Leader that this is simply incorrect. The company says it has reached out to WASH founder Eric John Harrison and “our invitations have gone unanswered.
“At this point we are contemplating filing a claim against WASH and Eric Harrison for defamation and other torts associated with his incorrect statements,” the spokesman says, adding that Chiquita’s top concern is always the the well-being of its employees, the communities in which it does business and its consumers.
A report published earlier this year documents a trend in sustainable sourcing commitments by Chiquita and other manufacturers, and says these private sector sourcing commitments are driving major market growth for sustainable commodities. The State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014 says the growing number of companies that have made commitments to source sustainably illustrates the critical role that the private sector plays in overall market growth of products certified under these initiatives.