A Kansas farmer accuses seed producer Monsanto Co. for gross negligence after the discovery of a stand of Roundup Ready genetically engineered wheat drove down prices for US crops. After officials at the USDA confirmed the wheat had come from Monsanto seed, Japan and South Korea abruptly suspended US imports.
For some U.S. wheat farmers, they are the seeds of trouble.
A Kansas farmer is suing Monsanto Co. for gross negligence after last week’s discovery of a stand of the company’s experimental Roundup Ready genetically engineered wheat in an Oregon field caused global prices to plunge.
Farmer Ernest Barnes, who grows wheat on 1,000 acres in southwest Kansas, filed suit Monday in Morton County, alleging that “Monsanto has released GE [genetically engineered] wheat into the nongenetically modified wheat population.”
Several U.S. trading partners ban genetically modified organisms, or GMO, crops. Half of the country’s wheat crop is exported, accounting for annual revenues of $9 billion. After officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirm that the Oregon wheat had come from Monsanto seed, Japan and South Korea abruptly suspended American imports.
“Monsanto has failed our nation’s wheat farmers,” Stephen Susman, a partner in Houston-based law firm Susman Godfrey LLP, said in a statement. “We believe Monsanto knew of the risks its genetically altered wheat posed, and failed to protect farmers and their crops from those risks.”
Monsanto executive vice president and general counsel David Snively discounted the lawsuit.
“Tractor-chasing lawyers have prematurely filed suit without any evidence of fault and in advance of the crop’s harvest,” Snively said in a statement.
Warren Burns, another attorney representing Barnes, said that Monsanto should expect many other farmers to join in on the litigation against the company.
“You’re going to see suits filed all over the country,” Burns told the Daily News.
Furthermore, Burns said he was was somewhat puzzled by Snively’s contention that his client’s suit had been filed “without any evidence of fault.”
“It’s fairly straightforward,” Burns said. “The Oregon farmers who discovered this wheat sprayed it with Roundup, but it wouldn’t die. Multiple labs tested it and linked it to Monsanto.”
Though never formally approved for farming in the U.S., Monsanto’s Roundup-resistant wheat was tested in more than 100 fields in 16 states through 2005, when the company abandoned its pursuit of government approval.
Burns said the instant lawsuit was not about whether GMO crops are safe. Instead, he said, the case was about protecting U.S. farmers in the global marketplace that, by and large, doesn’t want genetically engineered wheat.
“At the end of the day, people in various countries have have spoken out and said they don’t want this product,” …..
Phoenix is the Co-Founder of DontComply.com, ComeAndTakeItAmerica.com, and host of the Don't Comply Radio Show.
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