Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Monsanto sued by Kansas wheat farmer over release of unapproved GMO wheat in Oregon

Wheat field in Coburg, Oregon
image credit: elias_daniel/Flickr
Madison Ruppert
Activist Post

A wheat farmer in Kansas has filed a lawsuit against Monsanto alleging that the infamous agricultural giant is guilty of gross negligence for not containing unapproved genetically modified wheat which was recently discovered in Oregon.

The farmer, Ernest Barnes, said that Monsanto’s GMO wheat has put all of the United States’ wheat export sales at risk. Meanwhile, Monsanto claims they have no clue how the “Roundup Ready” strain of wheat ended up in an Oregon field since they say they abandoned their research in 2004.

Indeed, Barnes is quite right in saying that the discovery has already impacted U.S. wheat exports. Japan canceled part of a tender to buy U.S. western white wheat. Japan is one of the largest export markets for U.S. wheat.

South Korea also suspended imports of U.S. wheat and said they would increase inspections of imports.

The EU similarly said they will test incoming shipments and will block any shipments containing GMO wheat.

“Monsanto has released GE (genetically engineered) wheat into the non-genetically modified wheat population,” Barnes’ petition states.

The “plaintiff has been harmed by any and all Monsanto GE wheat because it has impacted wheat exports and the price of wheat,” the petition adds, according to Reuters.

The unfortunate reality is that the scale of the spread of Monsanto’s unapproved GMO wheat is not quite known at this point.

Reuters points out that it is not even known if it “has contaminated food supplies” leading to multiple countries backing away from purchasing U.S. wheat.

While the lawsuit does not state a specific claim for damages, it does say that the amount in dispute exceeds $75,000.

Barnes seeks damages to be determined at trial, according to the Associated Press. However, AP notes that Warren Burns, one of Barnes’ attorneys, said that the scope of damages is potentially in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

While the U.S. Department of Agriculture claims that Oregon wheat is safe to eat and that there is no evidence showing that the GMO wheat entered the marketplace, entire countries apparently aren’t willing to take their word for it.

“These types of suits serve the purpose of helping police the agricultural system we have in place and make sure farmers are protected,” Burns told AP.

While Barnes’ lawsuit is believed to be the first in response to the discovery, his attorney said that
similar suits are in the works, according to AP.

The cases may be consolidated to make the process of discovery easier. Discovery involves obtaining, investigating and sharing evidence among parties.

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As expected, Monsanto has been critical of the lawsuit.

“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.

Monsanto claims that they followed a “government-directed, rigorous, well-documented and audited” process of closing out their GMO wheat program.

They pointed out that on average wheat seed is only viable for one or two years in the soil. One must wonder then, where did the contamination come from if the program was so rigorously closed out some nine years ago?

Monsanto claims that they are not to be held liable for the contaminated crop because they took so much care to prevent contamination.

“Given the care undertaken, no legal liability exists and the company will present a vigorous defense,” Monsanto said in a statement

Obviously the contamination still happened so it’s unclear just how much care was actually taken.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Monti Belot of the U.S. District Court in Wichita, Kansas.

Burns said that he thinks the lawsuit will remain in U.S. District Court in Kansas due to the “tremendous amount of harm [that] has fallen on Kansas and Kansas farms.”

“We view it as very important to maintaining farmers and maintaining the way of life they lead which is very important not only to this country but countries around the world to which we export,” Burns said.

“It is hard to underestimate the importance of the American wheat crop in sustaining people around the globe,” Burns added, according to AP.

If the unapproved GMO wheat is found to be more widespread than the initial discovery in Oregon, the U.S. wheat exports estimated to be worth around $9 billion this year could be put at even greater risk.

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This article first appeared at End the Lie.

Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. Madison also now has his own radio show on UCYTV Monday nights 7 PM - 9 PM PT/10 PM - 12 AM ET. Show page link here: http://UCY.TV/EndtheLie. If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at admin@EndtheLie.com


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Ken Seehart said...

“Given the care undertaken, no legal liability exists and the company will present a vigorous defense,” Monsanto said in a statement

So when the next major prion induced outbreak (or whatever) is traced to unexpected side effects of GMO foods, they will say "Not our fault, there is no way we could have known that could happen."

Anonymous said...

I hope Monsanto loses. They are even making cross contamination of our corn products for the corn crops that aren't planted as GMO due to Pollen being transferred. Farmers here in Iowa also use GMO and that must be stopped. A farmer here commented on the radio that he has used GMO for 20 years because he gets a higher yield. Well, stop GMO and if the yields are less, how about the millions of acres of farmland that aren't farmed to start producing crops? GMO must be stopped here in the United States and I am very glad that countries that we import to are not accepting GMO products.

Anonymous said...

I don't really know details of the "Monsatan" Protection Act, but will Monsanto be covered under this new act?

Anonymous said...

With any luck, the farmers will sue the evil b*****ds out of existence.

Anonymous said...

What? The wheat that we let out so later we can sue all farmers for having our patented wheat genes? noooooooo, we never did that! What would we have to gain from that?

Folks, it is time to burn all ties with gmo crops before it burns us.

Anonymous said...

"Monsanto claims that they are not to be held liable for the contaminated crop because they took so much care to prevent contamination."
How can that same principle be applied to farmers Monsanto sues when farmers' fields are cross-pollinated by wind or insects?
Every wheat farmer in the USA ought to sue Monsanto and put Monsanto in the "farmers' shoes". Go, U.S. wheat farmers, go to court now.


Imagine if the US Army were to test chemical weapons outdoors in an open environment.

Anonymous said...

This stupid company is doing more harm than good.
The US bee population is dying. After the bees go, agriculture will collapse. One has to wonder what Monsanto's real agenda is.
One has to wonder when people conscience will act to take these idiots to task for the damage they're doing.


Anonymous said...

So,let me get this straight, when a farmer is found by Monsanto to have illegal wind blown seed growing in his field, ie Vernon Bowman, Percy Schmeiser Monsanto sues said farmer/s into oblivion.

When farmer goes after Monsanto for illegal seed growing in his field its not their fault, have no idea how it got there, are not responsible for their negligence etc etc and they run for protection behind the veil of bureaucrats.....

Does anybody here see the elephant in the room?

Am I missing anything here?

Anonymous said...

Plato said:

"The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men"

We will now pay dearly for being indifferent to the idiots playing with fire.

This is just the beginning!

Wait until ALL fields are contaminated with this crap.
The genie is out of the bottle with no way I can see to stuff it back in, all because we were to afraid of the too big to fail or too big to jail.

You think this is bad?

You haven't even begun to see the HELL we are creating or allowing to be created.

Anonymous said...

The Corporati$t Courts will rule either:

He has "no standing" since his crops were not, themselves, contaminated.


He has "infringed" on Monsanto's patents for the seeds and engaged in "genetic piracy" if his crops actually are contaminated.

The system has been rigged, you are the new commodity.

Anonymous said...

No, Monsanto will not loose unless WE THE PEOPLE let them get away with the blessing of our deeply corrupted government.
Perhaps, a revolution against Monsanto is what needs to be done.
Whatever it takes to destry this company once and for all, might have to be considered !

Anonymous said...

amen so true. they sue farmers for there cross contamination. but they can't be sued.

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