Monsanto to Pay $2.5 Million Fine for Misbranding Violations

Monsanto BT Cotton

Monsanto’s got a great reputation in the world of people who read beyond the label. (Yes, that’s sarcasm.) Monsanto’s latest score is that they have to (and have actually agreed to) pay $2.5 million for misbranding violations regarding certain cotton seed products containing genetically engineered pesticides.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made the announcement recently.

“People who manufacture and distribute pesticide products must follow the federal registration requirements,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “These requirements are critical to preventing the development and spread of insect resistance.”

Beth Buczynski over at The EcoSpheric Blog writes:

Monsanto Bollgard and Bollgard II cotton seed products contain genetically engineered pesticides known as plant incorporated protectants (PIPs), which are registered as a pesticidal product under FIFRA. As a condition of the registrations, the EPA placed planting restrictions on Bollgard and Bollgard II, which contain the PIP Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in 10 Texas counties to protect against pests becoming resistant to Bt PIPs and other microbial products used in sprays and dusts.

Monsanto was required to control the sale and distribution of the cotton seed by including information on the planting restrictions in its labeling and grower guides.

Apparently, Monsanto distributed or sold its cotton products over 1,700 times between 2002 and 2007 without including the required planting restrictions in its grower guides. The result: Bollgard and Bollgard II cotton were planted in exactly those counties where it was restricted.

Not the most popular crop in India, over 100,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide because of Monsanto’s Bt cotton. It’s great that Monsanto has agreed to pay $2.5 million for the Texas violations, but the damage is much worse than that.

“Although this is the largest civil administrative penalty settlement ever received under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), it can be argued that the fine arrives three years late, and is merely a slap on the wrist for this international corporation,” Beth writes.

As an interesting footnote to her piece on The EcoSpheric Blog, Beth writes: “In September 2008, EPA lifted the planting restriction in the 10 Texas counties for Bollgard II, after Monsanto applied for a change in the registration of that product. So basically, they get away with their incredibly damaging actions by throwing some money at the EPA and shuffling some papers around.”

Nice. The way agribusiness should be.

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Image Credit: fsgm via flickr

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