A lawsuit filed against St. Louis-based Monsanto alleges the company knowingly marketed some products to farmers without any safe herbicide.
Campbell-based Bader Farms in southeast Missouri alleges that Monsanto is responsible for damage to the farm’s crops this year because of drift from a herbicide called dicamba. Bader Farms attorney Bev Randles tells Missourinet the lawsuit, which was filed in Dunklin County, alleges that the farm has lost more than 30,000 peach trees.
“Monsanto released their Xtend crops, their soybean and cotton seeds, and they did so though without a corresponding herbicide, which is just from everything that we understand is basically unheard of,” Randles says.
In a statement, Monsanto says it has taken “many steps” both prior to and throughout the 2016 season to remind growers, dealers and applicators that dicamba was not approved for in-crop use at the time. Monsanto also says it does not condone the illegal use of any pesticide.
Randles says Monsanto “chose greed over public safety” and made farms in southeast Missouri “unwilling test labs for their defective seed system.” The lawsuit alleges that Monsanto chose to sell the Xtend seeds, knowing that destructive spraying would be inevitable.
“What we’re looking for here is truth,” Randles says. “These are people who are the lifeblood of Missouri’s economy, particularly the southeast Missouri economy, because agriculture is so important there,” Randles says.
The lawsuit does not request a specific amount of damages.
Monsanto says while it sympathizes “with those who have been impacted by farmers who chose to apply dicamba illegally”, the lawsuit tries to shift responsibility away from individuals who knowingly broke state and federal law.
Bader Farms says it has lost millions of dollars because of some farmers spraying pesticides illegally.
Randles expects more farmers to file lawsuits.
Online court records indicate that the judge overseeing this case is former Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer. A court date has not been scheduled yet.
Missourinet spoke to State Department of Agriculture Director Richard Fordyce Tuesday at the State Capitol. Fordyce says he cannot comment on the lawsuit, because of the Department’s open and ongoing investigation into pesticide complaints.
Here is the full statement from Monsanto spokeswoman Charla Lord to Missourinet:
When it comes to maximizing performance, farmers are in need of new technology to help them combat troublesome weeds. We spent years researching and developing our best products and varieties for the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System. In addition to the trait as another mode of action for weed control, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans and Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton were developed utilizing the latest breeding advancements to provide farmers with strong yield potential. That yield potential itself presents tremendous value for growers even without application of dicamba, and we wanted our customers to experience that advantage as quickly as possible. We did not charge growers for the trait because the herbicide had not been approved for over-the-top use. Both prior to and throughout the 2016 season, Monsanto took many steps to remind growers, dealers and applicators that dicamba was not approved for in-crop use at the time, and we do not condone the illegal use of any pesticide. While we sympathize with those who have been impacted by farmers who chose to apply dicamba illegally, this lawsuit attempts to shift responsibility away from individuals who knowingly and intentionally broke state and federal law and harmed their neighbors in the process. Responsibility for these actions belongs to those individuals alone. We will defend ourselves accordingly.