Agricultural giant Monsanto is facing a growing problem with its genetically modified wheat. The company attracted criticism earlier this month with news that their GMO wheat had infiltrated an Oregon farm. This Monday, a Kansas farmer filed a civil lawsuit in US federal court against Monsanto citing “gross negligence” and seeking compensation for his discovery of rogue GMO wheat. Monsanto dismissed the allegations as unfounded.
Kansas farmer Ernest Barnes is seeking $100,000 in reparations for his crop’s contamination. “The case may be the first of many Monsanto faces over alleged wheat contamination,” said a spokesman from law firm Susman Godfrey. “We are committed to making sure that any consolidation occurs where farmers are directly impacted.”
For its part, Monsanto does not seem particularly concerned. “Plaintiffs are taking a wild swing that is unlikely to connect,” the company said. “Tractor-chasing lawyers have prematurely filed suit without any evidence of fault and in advance of the crop’s harvest.”
Despite their assurances, Japan and South Korea have already suspended all of its US wheat imports, and the EU has pledged to test all of its incoming wheat. The Department of Agriculture is still investigating the first appearance of a rogue GMO strain, although they assure the public that the US wheat crop is secure and that there is no indication of GMO grain entering commerce.
While one lawsuit may seem insignificant, it should be noted that the United States produces 10 percent of the world’s wheat and is the globe’s largest exporter. Kansas alone is the country’s second-largest exporter, with $1.5 billion of revenue being generated from crops every year. With more countries scrutinizing or banning genetically modified goods, there is potential for the damage of major economies as well as livelihoods and environments.