By: Ben Unglesbee

Residents from a handful of states are suing Monsanto and two of its spinoff companies over the alleged role company-made chemicals played in the development of the their blood cancers.

The lawsuit, filed May 28 in St. Louis Circuit County Court and removed to U.S. district court in Missouri’s Eastern District, centers on polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. From the 1930s into the late 1970s, Monsanto manufactured PCBs under the brand name “Aroclor” during its days as a chemical company, which effectively ended when it spun off its chemical business as Solutia Inc. — also a defendant in the lawsuit — in 1997.

Pharmacia, formed out of a then-pharmaceutical unit of Monsanto before the companies separated in 2002 — leaving Monsanto Co. as an agricultural company — is also listed as a defendant along with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc., which acquired Pharmacia in 2003.

Monsanto spokeswoman Charla Lord said in a statement: “It is unfortunate whenever people experience health problems, including the plaintiffs in this case. While we are sympathetic to the plaintiffs, we believe the allegations are without merit and the former Monsanto Company is not responsible for the alleged injuries.”

The federal government banned the manufacture of PCBs in 1979 after they were found to be carcinogens. According to the suit, filed by Alabama resident Roger Bailey and 11 others from six states, Monsanto manufactured and sold 99 percent of PCBs made in the U.S. “Because PCBs were dumped in the environment over decades by Monsanto, its customers, and the end users of various PCB-containing products, PCBs are now ubiquitous in the environment,” the plaintiffs’ complaint said.

Originally Published: St. Louis Business Journal