Monsanto sued over discovery of GM wheat sprouts

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A Kansas wheat farmer has filed a civil lawsuit against Monsanto alleging gross negligence and other causes of action following reports last week that unapproved genetically modified wheat was found growing in Oregon.

Ernest Barnes, a farmer in Morton County in the far southwest corner of Kansas, filed suit Monday in U.S. District Court in Wichita, alleging that he and other wheat farmers have suffered financially by the discovery of GM wheat sprouts in an 80-acre field in Oregon.

“Monsanto has failed our nation’s wheat farmers,” says Stephen Susman, the lead attorney for Susman Godfrey, the firm that filed the case on behalf of Barnes. “We believe Monsanto knew of the risks its genetically altered wheat posed and failed to protect farmers and their crops from those risks.”

The petition states that “Monsanto has released GE (genetically engineered) wheat into the non-genetically modified wheat population.” Further, the petition states that the “plaintiff has been harmed by any and all Monsanto GE wheat because it has impacted wheat exports and the price of wheat.”

The GM wheat discovery was made by an Oregon farmer who took to the field this spring to kill volunteer wheat sprouts by spraying them with glyphosate, and some of the sprouts unexpectedly survived. Scientists found the wheat was a strain field-tested from 1998 to 2005 and deemed safe before Monsanto withdrew it from the regulatory approval process.

After news of the GM wheat discovery, Japan and South Korea immediately suspended purchases American wheat, and the European Union, which imports more than 1 million tons of U.S. wheat each year, said it would ensure its “zero tolerance” policy against GM crops was maintained.

The suit does not state a specific claim for damages but says the amount in dispute exceeds $75,000. Barnes’ attorney says more lawsuits are likely, but Monsanto says the lawsuit is a “wild swing” that lacks basis.

“Tractor-chasing lawyers have prematurely filed suit without any evidence of fault and in advance of the crop’s harvest,” David Snively, Monsanto executive vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

Monsanto said it had followed a "government-directed, rigorous, well-documented and audited" program in conducting its wheat field trials and it is likely that the presence of its biotech trait in wheat is very limited.

"Given the care undertaken, no legal liability exists and the company will present a vigorous defense," the Monsanto statement said.

Monsanto also issued a statement yesterday reiterating its full support to the U.S. wheat industry and regulatory authorities following the GM wheat incident.

“Monsanto has provided a validated testing method for the original Roundup Ready wheat trait to the USDA, and, more recently, to government regulators in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the European Union, as requested,” the statement says. “The method will provide these governments with the opportunity to precisely and accurately test for the original Roundup Ready wheat trait and distinguish it from traits that are already approved and widely used in other crops.”

Philip Miller, Monsanto vice president of Regulatory Affairs, said, “We have cooperated with the USDA and other regulatory authorities so that they can continue to have full confidence in U.S. wheat exports. While the USDA has noted that they have no evidence that the original Roundup Ready wheat trait has entered commerce, our support is aimed at ensuring that the U.S. wheat industry and wheat farmers do not experience disruptions in exports.”


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Sam    
Oh  |  June, 05, 2013 at 09:05 AM

Could this be economic terrorism propagated by left wing extreamessts?

Jim    
In a drought  |  June, 05, 2013 at 09:48 AM

No Sam, Monsanto's tactics in dealing with farmers whose crops have been contaminated by their "science" is economic terrorism, as will be their legal defense in this suit.

rick    
June, 05, 2013 at 09:49 AM

It could but the gene sequence for Monsanto's roundup resistant gene would likely be so specific that you should be able to idenify the source, Monsanto or non-Monsanto. If it is non-monsanto the investigation would go in a different direction. If Monsanto, it begs the question of how did Monsanto lose something which they should have know was extremely sensitive?

tony newbill    
powell butte ore  |  June, 05, 2013 at 10:06 AM

This will Limit the use of conservation methods of NO - Till in growing other crops , that in itself is cause for panic because if we produce a bunch of crops that can only be killed with conventional tillage methods then the impact on erosion and qualifying for farm programs will be impacted .

tony newbill    
powell butte ore  |  June, 05, 2013 at 10:33 AM

They cannot TOUCH Monsanto , they are ABOVE the LAW , Obama signed it into LAW , HR-933 Listen to this , start the video at 1:00 and Listen carefully how Monsanto can petition the court for a permit or deregulation to allow the use of the GM . The Real Story Behind the 'Monsanto Protection Act' http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xow6VC851C0 This lawsuit will go nowhere !!!!

jmcv02    
manhattan,ks  |  June, 05, 2013 at 05:45 PM

Tony-I don't think you fully understand the clause and it protects more then just Monsanto, its any company who decides to invest and develop GMO crops. The clause doesn't kick in till after the regulatory decision (safety, enviroment, health testing completed, ready to be commerically available) and its to keep farmers from having to destroy or quit planting a certain crop just because there is a frivoulous lawsuit in court. Activists like to use lawsuits to tie things up even if its baseless, that eliminates the use of that tactic.

jmcv02    
manhattan, ks  |  June, 05, 2013 at 06:00 PM

Rick- I've heard from alot of industry people that sabotage is a very likely case. Monsanto in no way would benefit from "releasing" GMO wheat, thats the whole reason they stopped the regulartory process even after it was deemed safe. Its also strange that nine years after Monsanto shelved everything the very first gmo wheat plant finally showed up, highly unlikely.

jmcv02    
manhattan, ks  |  June, 05, 2013 at 06:00 PM

Rick- I've heard from alot of industry people that sabotage is a very likely case. Monsanto in no way would benefit from "releasing" GMO wheat, thats the whole reason they stopped the regulartory process even after it was deemed safe. Its also strange that nine years after Monsanto shelved everything the very first gmo wheat plant finally showed up, highly unlikely.

James Michael DuPont    
Topeka, Kansas  |  June, 07, 2013 at 07:59 AM

jmvc01, you posted twice. This wheat is produced by Monsanto and it escaped. You are saying that some one stole the wheat and distributed it to set them up. Well first of all, how are we supposed to find this wheat or contain it? It is wind pollinated and it could have infected huge amounts of other plants. How responsible was Monsanto to put any of this in the wild if it is not security controlled and containable or measurable or stopable? Was that not wrong to begin with? if you release some disease into the wild , it is then your fault. It should never have been put into the wild to begin with and it needs to be contained and controlled. I guess on some island would be the only way to contain it.

Kentucky hip recall attorneys    
http://kentucky.attorney-group.com/stryker-rejuvenate-recalled-hip-replacement/  |  July, 15, 2013 at 11:44 PM

I don't think so there is anything good about GMO’s for the consumer, the only good is for the corporations who make them, and that is only temporary, until the lies about the supposed increased yield and increased used of pesticide start to unravel. A recent study has just shown GMO’s are LESS efficient than tradition crops, are MORE susceptible to harsh environments and weather, and use MORE pesticide.


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