Proclaiming it was Du Pont's "time to pay the piper," the leader of a group of growers suing the company over its Benlate fungicide said Monday he would accept the "Benlate Challenge."
Du Pont chairman Edgar S. Woolard Jr., who has denied the fungicide caused crop damages, issued the winner-take-all offer last week: Test your plants with Benlate. If they die, Du Pont pays. If they live, drop your lawsuit.
Dale R. Smith, president of the Homestead-based Benlate Victims Against Du Pont, wrote to Woolard on Monday and accepted the challenge _ with stipulations.
Smith said the tests would be done at his nursery by state of Florida scientists; each part would supply one-half of the Benlate to be used in the tests and the tests would run July 1 to Nov. 1.
Du Pont responded angrily and impatiently with Smith's offer.
Pat Getter, spokeswoman for the Wilmington, Del.-based Du Pont, said the challenge required that the testing take place at any one of the top agricultural universities in the nation, not at a litigant's nursery and not by Florida officials.
More than 400 lawsuits have been filed nationwide alleging the fungicide caused millions of dollars in damage.