Monsanto sued by environmental group, farmers over GM wheat

The largest seed company in the world, Monsanto has been sued by an environmental group and wheat farmers over claims it did not take effective steps to prevent contamination of regular wheat by genetically altered wheat.

WheatThis comes as at least the third lawsuit of the kind filed since the discovery of wheat modified to withstand Monsanto's Roundup Ready weed killer on a farm in Oregon last month.

The modified wheat had been field-tested in 16 states, including Washington, from 1998 to 2005 by the company, which dropped the project and never sought US approval to market the wheat for planting, a complaint filed today in federal court in Spokane, Washington pointed out.

In May 2010, monsanto had announced that it was repositioning its Roundup soybean seeds business in the face of the uncertainty associated with the product. Monsanto said it is focusing on its glyphosate products for supporting the core seeds-and-traits business.

The US announced in May 2013, that an unauthorised Roundup Ready genetically-engineered wheat trait had been detected in wheat from an Oregon farm.

''Due to Monsanto's wrongful conduct, soft white wheat destined for export markets for use in food products has been rejected for the purposes for which it was intended,'' the Center for Biological Diversity said in the complaint.

''Because scheduled shipments already have been postponed and canceled, the presence of genetically engineered wheat has detrimentally impacted the domestic and global wheat markets and damaged plaintiffs and other wheat farmers.''

According to Monsanto, the experimental wheat might have ended up in the Oregon field through an ''accidental or purposeful'' act.

Meanwhile, wheat farmers and a food safety advocacy group in the US filed a lawsuit yesterday against the company.

The Center for Food Safety or CFS, a non-profit food safety advocacy group, pointed out that Oregon wheat farmers took a hit from depressed wheat prices following the discovery of Monsanto's illegal genetically engineered, glyphosate-resistant wheat plants in an Oregon field.

The genetically engineered crops, created by Monsanto, were not approved for sale or commercial production in the US and the presence of these unapproved crops led wheat importing nations like Japan, South Korea as also the EU to impose restriction on American wheat or call for testing.

According to CFS, a class action lawsuit was filed against Monsanto on behalf of the group and Pacific Northwest wheat farmers.

CFS and Washington white wheat farmers, representing the broad class of farmers hit by the contamination, have sought relief and are forcing Monsanto take measures to clean up the contamination and ensure it never happened again.

A Kansas farmer also filed a lawsuit yesterday in federal court in Wichita, Kansas, against the company over the issue.