St. Louis, MO—As reported in several publications including The Wall Street Journal, seed and pesticides maker Monsanto has agreed to pay $2.4 million to resolve a series of complaints about genetically modified soft wheat. Under the terms of the agreement, Monsanto, without admitting liability, is to put $2.1 million into a settlement fund to compensate farmers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho who sold soft white wheat between May 30 and Nov.13, 2013, and an additional $250,000 to wheat growers associations.
The controversy began when an herbicide-resistant strain of wheat was discovered on a farm in Oregon and traced back to Monsanto by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Genetically modified wheat is not approved for commercial use, and as a result of this discovery, wheat prices fell sharply along with big buyers of U.S. wheat like South Korea, Japan and the European Union, suspending imports from the U.S. The U.S. is currently the world’s largest exporter of wheat.
In a statement, Monsanto chief litigation counsel Kyle McClain said that “rather than paying the costs of protracted litigation, this agreement puts that money to work in research and development efforts for the wheat industry.” Erin Green Comite, a lawyer for one of the farmers, also spoke positively about the agreement, saying that in addition to fairly and equitably resolving her clients’ claims, the settlement would benefit the soft white wheat industry as well. Additional claims against Monsanto regarding other varieties of wheat are still pending.
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, December 2014(online 11/14/2014)