November 13, 2014
Monsanto strikes out-of-court deal with US wheat farmers
Monsanto Company has agreed to pay a total of US$2.375 million to US white wheat farmers who had filed several lawsuits related to the May 2013 discovery of genetically modified wheat on a farm in Eastern Oregon and subsequent temporary limits on certain exports of soft white wheat.
The payments were made under a settlement agreement that dismissed the class action lawsuits and that carried no admission of liability on the part of the US-based agricultural biotechnology company.
"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 with documented soft white wheat sales from May 30 to November 30, 2013," said Kyle McClain, Monsanto chief litigation counsel.
He added the settlement was "reasonable and in the best interest of all of the parties."
The payments include:
US$250,000 to wheat growers' associations, including US$100,000 to the National Wheat Foundation and US$50,000 each to the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, the Oregon Wheat Growers' League and the Idaho Grain Producers' Association; and
- US$2.125 million in settlement fund, which will be used to pay farmers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho who sold soft white wheat between May 30, 2013, and November 30, 2013.
The agreement stipulated that if any amount remained in the settlement fund after claims were paid, up to US$250,000 of the remainder would be added as donations to the wheat growers' associations.
James Pizzirusso, one of the lawyers representing the farmers, said of the settlement agreement, "We believe this is a unique and fair mechanism for resolving the claims of soft white wheat farmers."
Co-counsel Erin Green Comite also said, "The settlement fairly and equitably resolves our clients' claims and benefits the soft white wheat industry as well."
Monsanto said the settlement will not resolve pending claims of wheat growers who grew a type of wheat other than soft white wheat.