Farmer Sues Monsanto Over Illegal GMO Wheat

Wheat stalks

Kansas farmer Ernest Barnes filed suit against Monsanto this week, seeking damages related to unapproved GMO wheat. Monsanto’s genetically modified wheat never gained USDA approval, but was recently found growing on an Oregon farm. That discovery prompted Japan and other countries to drop some US wheat exports like hot potatoes. In this suit, Barnes claims Monsanto’s carelessness with unapproved test crops have led to irreparable harm to US farmers. This suit marks the first action filed against Monsanto over GMO wheat — but it probably won’t be the last.

Barnes farms 1,000 acres in southwest Kansas, and doesn’t report direct contamination of his fields by Monsanto’s unapproved GM wheat. Instead Barnes alleges Monsanto’s gross negligence damaged his business and his livelihood, by driving wheat prices down and causing some countries to suspend US imports of possibly-contaminated grains.

Barnes filed the federal civil suit Monday, seeking unspecified damages.

According to one AP article,

It’s believed to be the first lawsuit stemming from the discovery. Similar lawsuits are in the works, Barnes’ attorney said, and the cases will likely be consolidated for the purposes of discovery, a process where evidence is investigated and shared among parties.

There’s no question that growers’ have been negatively impacted by this GMO wheat incident.

From Forbes:

Japan and South Korea suspended some imports of American wheat, the European Union urged its 27 nations to increase testing, investors drove down the price of Monsanto shares by 4% on Friday, and the price on the Chicago Board of Trade of wheat for July delivery fell 8.25 cents to $6.945 a bushel.

WTH-GMO: Monsanto’s Oopsie

Unapproved Monsanto-created GMO wheat apparently escaped into the Oregon agro-sphere, creating completely predictable potential catastrophe for US wheat farmers – and highlighting our sloppy and ineffective ‘regulation’ procedures for GM crops.

The USDA announced last Wednesday that it’s investigating the renegade appearance of unapproved Roundup Ready GM wheat on an Oregon farm. No one seems to know how it got there, or how long it’s been there — or, apparently, how to keep unwanted (untested, unapproved, virtually unregulated) biotech crops out of fields to which they’re not invited.

As Reuters reported last Friday,

The incident joins a score of episodes in which biotech crops have eluded efforts to segregate them from conventional varieties. But it marks the first time that a test strain of wheat, which has no genetically modified varieties on the market, has escaped the protocols set up by U.S. regulators to control it…

The discovery instantly roiled export markets, with Japan canceling a major shipment of wheat, a quick reminder of what is at stake – an $8 billion U.S. wheat export business.

Monsanto tested a genetically modified strain of wheat from 1998 through 2005, but discontinued it due to global opposition to the idea of GMO cereal grains. The USDA has never approved any strain of GM wheat for sale or agricultural use, making the April discovery of Monsanto’s test strain growing on an 80-acre Oregan farm a puzzling and disturbing mystery.

According to an article from news,

The discovery of a Monsanto-created, genetically modified strain of wheat in the US that was never approved by the United States Department of Agriculture has imperiled US exports of a staple world food commodity.

  Japanese authorities have already opted to cancel part of a  tender offer to buy US western white wheat and have suspended  imports of both that variety and feed wheat, Reuters reported on  Thursday.  

“We will refrain from buying western white and feed wheat  effective today,” Toru Hisadome, a Japanese farm ministry  official in charge of wheat trading, told the agency.  

The Monsanto-staffed USDA says it’s investigating the ongoing GM wheat debacle.

This unsavory wheat incident reveals the sloppy non-regulation of GM crops that we’ve allowed to become the norm in the US — it’s a national embarrassment, spotlighting just how far we lag behind other nations in terms of regulating GMOs. Contamination and corruption are inevitable when we allow Monsanto to write its own rules, staff our (alleged) regulatory agencies, and escape all accountability under the law.

Maybe we should stop: our citizens, our children, and our farmers deserve better.

Give ’em heck, Mr. Barnes!

Image credit: Creative Commons photo by Dag Endresen.


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