6 Different Reasons Monsanto Has Been Sued Over the Years

March 31, 2016
by Steve Holt for Thrive Market
6 Different Reasons Monsanto Has Been Sued Over the Years

Earlier this month, the Portland, Ore. City Council passed a unanimous resolution to allow a city attorney to sue Monsanto for producing the chemical PCB, which officials allege has contaminated the city’s waterways for years. For more than four decades, Monsanto was the sole U.S. manufacturer of cancer-causing PCBs, which were banned by Congress in the late 1970s. Once present in the environment, the chemicals can remain for decades, and Portland claims Monsanto should be on the hook for cleaning them up. (Monsanto, for its part, denies the claim and says it shouldn’t be held responsible when the company has been focused solely on agriculture for the last decade.) It seems like yesterday we were just reporting on two crushing court losses for the biotech company in Mexico: one filed by beekeepers in the Yucatan Peninsula to stop the planting of GMO soy and the other upholding a 2013 injunction stopping the planting of genetically engineered corn in the region. It got us thinking: just how many times has big, bad Monsanto been taken to court for its (alleged) environmental sins? The short answer: lots. While the total number is difficult to tally, here’s a roundup—pun definitely intended—of a few of the higher-profile cases.

1. Patent lawsuits

Several groups have (mostly unsuccessfully) challenged Monsanto on the grounds that the company’s patents on various seeds are invalid, starting with the Public Patent Foundation’s 2006 complaint to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The PTO upheld the patents, with only minor amendments. In February 2012, two NGOs—Navdanya and No Patents On Seeds—opposed a Monsanto patent on melon seeds awarded by the European Union, but a resolution has not been reached.

2. Dioxin poisoning

In what would become the longest jury trial in U.S. history, Kemner v. Monsanto (1984–1987), a group of Missouri plaintiffs claimed to have been poisoned by Monsanto-produced dioxin when a train derailed in 1979. Though the plaintiffs initially won punitive damages in the case, Monsanto appealed and had the ruling overturned.

3. PCB contamination

The Portland lawsuit against Monsanto for PCB contamination has several precedents. In 2003, the company settled with residents of West Anniston, Ala., for $700 million over the manufacturing and dumping of the cancer-causing chemicals. Several other cities, including Los Angeles, Spokane, San Jose, and St. Louis, have filed suits against Monsanto over PCBs more recently—with mixed results.

4. Chemical poisoning

In 2012, a French court found Monsanto guilty in a case involving a farmer who became ill after being exposed to the company’s Roundup herbicide.

5. “Biopiracy”

A Monsanto subsidiary was sued in an Indian court for “biopiracy” after it allegedly created a genetically modified eggplant seed without first getting the proper permissions—a violation of the country’s 2002 biodiversity law.

6. Illegal soybean royalties

A Brazilian judge in 2012 ruled in favor of growers of GMO soybeans who claimed that a royalty they were being charged was illegal because Monsanto’s patents related to Roundup Ready soybeans had expired. And the list goes on.

Question for Monsanto: If you're treating both the earth and farmers fairly, why all the lawsuits?

Photo credit: bottlerocketprincess via Flickr

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This article is related to: Living, GMO Facts, GMO Foods, GMO News

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7 thoughts on “6 Different Reasons Monsanto Has Been Sued Over the Years”

  • Nitro CEE.

    Good job thrive market!!

  • Joe Smith

    Go to hell Monsanto!

  • Reality of Truth

    Monsanto's patents are indeed invalid. This is due to their own conflicting statements regarding the matter, but when they have their own operatives in the so-called regulatory agencies it is no surprise that they rubber stamp without due process or regard. Their statements on Patents claim that the genetic engineering process is unique and thus must be patent-able, however, on the opposite spectrum of their two-faced doublespeak, they've been fighting simple labeling that happens all over the world and dare to claim that their engineered products are 'no more different than the real counterparts and thus qualify as natural'! This is the exact opposite of their claim to being "unique" enough to patent, only proving that they wanted the U.S. populous to believe that these products were natural and safe but using the system itself to claim they are unique, thus allowing them under-handed and unjust control of seeds and thus the food supply. Bio-piracy? More like Bio-Tyranny!

    • libertyfreedompatriot
      libertyfreedompatriot April 8, 2016 at 11:47 am

      Illuminating and frightening graphic. What's especially disheartening lately is the mainstream media defending, supporting, and promoting Monsanto every chance they get. Hardly a week goes by without some love letter to Monsanto, GMOs, and glyphosate/Roundup in Time, Slate, Grist, etc. Scientific, agricultural, and food illiteracy is rampant in this country.

  • RenegadeRN

    Good article Thrive! My disgust of Monsanto is so epic I have trouble finding words. There is just not enough hours in the day for that particular rant!

  • PutYourHealthFirst
    PutYourHealthFirst April 13, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Monsanto and Dow Chemicals are destroying our food and water systems all over the planet. It's horrible to say the least. People's health should come before big business.
    Check this site out: http://washingtonapples.org

  • Moongold

    What I can't understand is why this company hasn't been deregulated and put out of business. I think they are in fact the company that sold hybrid seeds to poor Indian farmers and promised them bumper and healthy crops only to find the plants dying and yielding almost nothing. I also believe it caused millions of suicides among those farmers as they depend on their crops each year to survive, and had previously done well on the normal plant seeds that yield their OWN seed in turn. They simply replanted these and had good crops every year. An ABC TV programme revealed that Monsanto deceived these farmers and ruined their lives.

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