Monsanto is generally known for producing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), having a bad environmental record, using dangerous pesticides, and clashing with local farmers. But how did they get this reputation? Read on to find out!
Frankenfood and the Terminator Seed
The company first got into trouble when it introduced GMOs to Europe and had its new, scientifically advanced product widely rejected as “Frankenfood.” Once global protests died down and GMOs became more socially acceptable, Monsanto purchased Delta Pine and Land Company, the inventor of a seed that could only be used once. By purchasing this so-called “terminator” seed, Monsanto settled into a reputation for exploiting farmers. Instead of relying on natural laws, farmers would have to buy new seeds from Monsanto – every single year.
As if this wasn’t enough, Monsanto already had a long history as a chemical company. Monsanto was one of the original producers of both Agent Orange (dioxin), a toxic herbicide that caused serious health issues after use during the Vietnam War, and DDT, a pesticide that’s devastating environmental effects were detailed in the best-selling book Silent Spring.
Monsanto also developed the popular herbicide, glyphosate (brand-name: Roundup®), which was recently labeled a “probable human carcinogen.”
While the cancer-causing “weed killer” is causing countless lawsuits, it also contributed to other issues in the agricultural world.
The Roundup®-Resistant Seed Controversy
In 1998, Monsanto sued an independent farmer after he refused to pay the licensing fee for growing “Roundup-Ready Canola.” The farmer claimed the seeds were blown onto his farm by mistake and the patented canola was practically indistinguishable from his own crops. Additionally, the farmer was not intending to use Roundup® on the seeds. The documentary, David vs Monsanto (2009) shows how many farmers have had their livelihood destroyed by Monsanto’s ridiculous patents and lawsuits.
From Roundup® to Dicamba
Most recently, certain “superweeds” have become resistant to Roundup® and other glyphosate products. In response, Monsanto, which is now a part of the agricultural giant, Bayer, started using a powerful herbicide called dicamba on its crops. Although Bayer/Monsanto has been able to develop dicamba-resistant strains of soybeans and cotton, the herbicide can be carried in the wind and cause damage to other, non-resistant crops.
Countless farmers have had their crops destroyed and their yields reduced as a part of this damaging practice. This time, however, they are able to fight back.
Lawsuits Against Bayer/Monsanto
In the past 3 years, dicamba-resistant soybeans, grown from “Xtend” seeds, have taken over 60 to 70% of the American soybean market. The seeds are worth about $1 billion per year. While some farmers are on board with the new product, others claim Bayer/Monsanto violated antitrust laws when it introduced the plants.
According to these farmers, they had no choice but to buy the seeds from Monsanto, which understood that drifting dicamba could drive competitors out of the market.
Their claim rings true when considering farmers who stick to traditional crops and how much destruction they have faced.
Dicamba-use is heavily contested and controversial. Additionally, dicamba may be even more dangerous than glyphosate in terms of toxicity.
How We Can Help at Bertram & Graf, L.L.C.
Explore our other blogs on Roundup® to get the whole picture. You may want to check out:
If you have used Roundup®, developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and believe you have a claim against Bayer/Monsanto, do not hesitate to contact our attorneys at Bertram & Graf, L.L.C.
Get in touch by phone ASAP at (888) 398-2277 and schedule a free consultation today.