Ten-state lawsuit against Monsanto filed
A Missouri law firm has filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of farmers in 10 states against Monsanto Company for dicamba spray drift damage to crops. The St. Louis company calls the lawsuit baseless.
Attorney Bev Randles, with Randles and Splittgerber of Kansas City, says Monsanto should be held liable for having released its X-Tend dicamba-tolerant seed without a corresponding herbicide.
She tells Brownfield most of the crop damage from spray drift is in Missouri and Arkansas, and points to testimony of an Arkansas farmer to the Arkansas Plant Board that his Monsanto rep told him to go ahead and spray the old dicamba formulation, “You can’t do those sorts of things. And, Monsanto, trying to shield itself from liability by pointing the finger outward, I just, I don’t think it’s right.”
Randles law firm filed a separate case last November with similar claims on behalf of a southeast Missouri peach farmer whose trees were damaged by Dicamba drift. The other eight states in the lawsuit are Illinois, Minnesota, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
Monsanto tells Brownfield it is not liable, that the individual farmers who sprayed dicamba illegally are at fault and that it warned growers about the non-Monsanto product that’s alleged in the complaint.
Audio: Interview with Bev Randle
Monsanto statement to Brownfield Ag News:
“This baseless lawsuit seeks an unprecedented expansion of the law by attempting to impose liability on a company that did not make the product that allegedly caused the damage, did not sell the product that allegedly caused the damage, and, in fact, warned against the very use of the product alleged in the complaint. If any of the damage alleged in the complaint was actually caused by use of the non-Monsanto herbicide product over Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, that use was illegal and performed by third parties over whom Monsanto has no control. This suit is simply an attempt to shift responsibility away from individuals who knowingly and intentionally broke state and federal law and harmed their neighbors in the process. The lawsuit is wholly without merit, and we will defend ourselves accordingly.
Other herbicides are approved for use with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans and Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton, and both offer many benefits other than dicamba tolerance. Bollgard II XtendFlex offers tolerance to both glyphosate and glufosinate herbicides and includes many of our most advanced cotton varieties. Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans are tolerant to glyphosate and include our newest, highest yielding soybean varieties. Due to the superior quality of these seed varieties, coupled with the ability to make in-crop applications of approved herbicide products, they offered farmers strong yield potential — even without the ability to make in-crop applications of dicamba herbicide. In fact, Monsanto did not charge growers for the dicamba trait because the herbicide had not been approved for over-the-top use. Moreover, before, during and after farmers purchased their seed, Monsanto took many steps to warn growers, dealers and applicators that dicamba was not approved for in-crop use. Simply put, Monsanto does not condone or encourage the illegal use of any pesticide. We remain confident that most farmers abide by the law, but if some did not, they should bear responsibility in this instance.”
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