By: Ben Unglesbee
Monsanto Company has reached a settlement with wheat farmers in seven states, including Missouri, over the 2013 contamination of an Oregon wheat farm with the seed and biotech company's genetically modified wheat.
In the settlement, Monsanto did not admit liability and agreed to donate $50,000 to land grant universities in each of the states represented in the lawsuit to advance the interests of wheat farmers and the wheat industry. The states involved in the settlement are Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Monsanto will also reimburse plaintiffs and their counsel for a portion of their out-of-pocket costs and fees associated with this litigation.
The settlement will lead to the dismissal of seven separate lawsuits. It will not resolve a suit brought by Arkansas wheat growers, whose case is still pending.
"Rather than paying the costs of protracted litigation, this agreement puts that money to work in research and development efforts for the wheat industry," said Kyle McClain, Monsanto chief litigation counsel, in a release. "Resolution in this manner is reasonable and in the best interest of all of the parties."
Interim lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the settling cases, Patrick Pendley of Pendley, Boudin & Coffin, L.L.P. in Plaquemine, Louisiana, noted, "We believe this is a unique and fair mechanism for resolving the claims of midwest and southeast wheat farmers. The settlement fairly and equitably resolves our clients' claims in a manner that will benefit all wheat industry farmers in the states receiving donations."
Monsanto has settled separate suits with farmers in the Midwest. The GMO contamination of an Oregon wheat field led farmers elsewhere in the U.S. to sue Monsanto over economic damages caused by the incident.
Originally Published: St. Louis Business Journal