Monsanto Company has agreed to pay nearly $2.4 million to wheat farmers in the Pacific Northwest to resolve a number of lawsuits related to the discovery of genetically engineered (GE) wheat on an Oregon farm.
“The settlement fairly and equitably resolves our clients’ claims and benefits the soft white wheat industry as well,” says Erin Green Comite, co-counsel for one of the farmers.
USDA has not deregulated genetically engineered wheat, and there are no genetically engineered wheat varieties for sale or in commercial production in the US.
After the GE wheat was found in Oregon, Japan, Korea and Taiwan postponed imports of US white wheat.
The settlement includes a total of $250,000 to wheat growers’ associations, including $100,000 to the National Wheat Foundation and $50,000 each to the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, the Oregon Wheat Growers’ League and the Idaho Grain Producers’ Association.
A total of $2.125 million will be put into a settlement fund designated to pay farmers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho who sold wheat between May 30, 2013 and November 30, 2013.
“Rather than paying the costs of protracted litigation, this agreement puts that money to work in research and development efforts for the wheat industry, while providing a negotiated level of compensation for farmers with documented soft white wheat sales from May 30 to November 30, 2013,” says Kyle McClain, Monsanto chief litigation counsel. “Resolution in this manner is reasonable and in the best interest of all of the parties.”
In September, USDA ended its investigation into the GE wheat growing in Oregon, concluding that the presence of the GE wheat appeared to be an isolated incident.
Monsanto, the leading producer of GE seed, has maintained a high profile in the media regarding genetically engineered seed after the company filed a lawsuit in federal court earlier this month challenging a Maui law that would ban the cultivation of genetically modified organisms. Residents of Maui voted to temporarily ban the growing of genetically engineered crops in the November elections.
The county’s amendment suspends all GMO operations and practices in the county until an Environmental Public Health Impact Statement analysis reporting on the impact of the operations and their associated pesticide use is assembled and reviewed by county officials.
Local news outlet the Honolulu Civil Beat reported the county agreed to postpone enforcement of the amendment until next year in response to the lawsuit in order to allow the court time to decide if the ban is legal.