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DUPONT CHAIRMAN WOOLARD ADDRESSES BENLATE ISSUE

 WILMINGTON, Del., June 16 /PRNewswire/ -- DuPont (NYSE: DD) Chairman Edgar S. Woolard Jr. today expressed outrage at recent attacks on the company's integrity.
 He issued a public challenge to those who claim that "Benlate" DF caused crop damage or the company willfully covered up evidence.
 At a news conference today at corporate headquarters, Woolard dared any plaintiff with a current lawsuit against DuPont to accept the Benlate Challenge: test Benlate DF on plants specified in their lawsuits, at label rates, at any one of 10 top agricultural universities in the United States. DuPont is offering to pay for the test as part of a legally binding agreement with the plaintiff.
 If tests show Benlate caused the damage claimed in a suit, DuPont will pay for the crop damage, he said. Conversely, if Benlate is shown not to cause plant damage, the plaintiff must agree to withdraw the suit.
 "Based on the data we gathered during our 1992 studies," Woolard said, "we are confident we will win every time."
 The company issued this challenge because it believes that "our good faith actions, our compliance with the law, our commitment of human and financial resources to the Herculean task of supplying documents and our extraordinary expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars to conduct tests and pay claims have been to no avail."
 A second challenge went out to those who have "outrageously accused DuPont of a cover up. In so doing, they impugn our motives and disgrace the character of DuPont and its people," Woolard said.
 He added, "If a cover up was executed, people had to do it -- hundreds of people including our most respected scientists. I have absolute confidence in the integrity of our employees. I trust our people."
 To carry out this second challenge, Woolard asked Howard Johnson, former chairman of MIT Corporation, and an outside director of DuPont's board, to serve as an ombudsman in this case.
 Anyone with knowledge of someone who intentionally and in bad faith withheld evidence or falsified data about Benlate, should contact Johnson, Woolard said. Johnson is empowered to retain independent counsel to probe allegations of wrongdoing and publicly report his findings.
 Woolard made his comments after:
 Plaintiffs' lawyers in a U.S. District Court in Georgia alleged that DuPont willfully withheld documents although the company has provided in excess of three million pages spanning 20 years;
 A pre-trial hearing resulted in the Court imposing a contingent fine of $1 million for withholding documents, and contemplating directing a verdict against DuPont; and
 The Florida Agriculture Commissioner seems primarily concerned with making political points.
 DuPont paid growers $500 million in voluntary settlements when it appeared that Benlate DF was involved in some of the reported crop damage. Payments ceased last November, however, after DuPont's extensive research -- reviewed by scientists including members of the National Academy of Sciences -- exonerated Benlate as the cause of plant damage.
 /delval/
 -0- 6/16/93 R
 /CONTACT: Pat Getter of DuPont, 302-992-6285/
 (DD)


CO: DuPont ST: Delaware IN: CHM SU:

MP -- PH009R -- 2676 06/16/93 14:22 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 16, 1993
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