Monsanto, wheat farmers reach settlement in Oregon GMO cases

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ST. LOUIS — Monsanto Company has entered into a settlement agreement with soft white wheat farmers in the Pacific Northwest that resolves a number of lawsuits related to the May 2013 discovery of genetically modified wheat on a farm in eastern Oregon.

The discovery triggered subsequent temporary limits on certain exports of soft white wheat.

Settlement fund

Under the settlement and without any admission of liability, Monsanto has agreed to pay $250,000 to wheat growers’ associations, including $100,000 to the National Wheat Foundation, and $50,000 each to the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, the Oregon Wheat Growers’ League, and the Idaho Grain Producers’ Association.

Monsanto will also pay $2.125 million into a settlement fund, which will be designated to pay farmers in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho who sold soft white wheat between May 30, 2013, and November 30, 2013.

“Rather than paying the costs of protracted litigation, this agreement puts that money to work in research and development efforts for the wheat industry, while providing a negotiated level of compensation for farmers,” said Kyle McClain, Monsanto chief litigation counsel.

As part of the resolution of these claims, Monsanto will also reimburse plaintiffs’ counsel for a portion of their out-of-pocket costs and fees associated with this litigation.

This settlement will not resolve claims that remain pending by wheat growers who grew a type of wheat other than soft white wheat.

Isolated incident

After its investigation of the detection of genetically engineered wheat growing in a single field on a farm in Oregon, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service concluded the presence of the genetically engineered wheat was an isolated incident.

An investigation is ongoing into a regulatory compliance issue involving GE wheat found growing at a research facility that was the previous site of authorized field trials in Montana.

Genetically engineered wheat was field-tested under APHIS’ regulatory approval at the Montana State University’s Southern Agricultural Research Center (SARC) in Huntley, Montana, between 2000 and 2003.

Genetic testing shows that the GE wheat at this research facility location is significantly different from the GE wheat found growing at the Oregon farm last year.

APHIS has not deregulated any genetically engineered wheat varieties to date, and thus, there are no GE wheat varieties for sale or in commercial production in the United States.

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