NEW MADRID CO., MO (KAIT) - - Monsanto, a company that works with farmers by delivering agricultural products to support them, responded to a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of farmers in 10 states, including Arkansas and Missouri.
Randles & Splittgerber, a Kansas City firm, filed Steven W. Landers, et al. v. Monsanto Company in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on behalf of Steven and Deloris Landers of New Madrid County. The suit against Monsanto alleges illegal dicamba spraying.
The lawsuit alleges the Landers' farms have been "greatly damaged by the illegal herbicide spraying."
The suit claims Monsanto "knowingly marketed its Xtend cotton and soybean seeds to farmers without any safe herbicide."
It further alleges the company knew purchasers would have to "illegally spray dicamba to protect the crops from weeds" which can drift and destroy other crops.
"Monsanto chose to sell these seeds before they could be safely cultivated," said Bev Randles in a news release. "Monsanto's own advertising repeatedly describes its Xtend seeds and its accompanying herbicide as a 'system' intended to be used together. But when Monsanto failed to get approval to sell the herbicide, it recklessly chose to go ahead and sell the seeds regardless."
Randles said usage of the herbicide "decimated hundreds of thousands of acres of crops nationwide."
The suit claims dicamba has affected the livelihoods of farmers in 10 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
"The more we learned about the extent of the damage, the more concerned we became for the smaller farmers who lack the resources to seek redress against Monsanto individually," Randles said. "The purpose of this suit is to hold Monsanto liable for its harm to all landowners, regardless of the size of the farms."
Monsanto issued a statement to Region 8 News and claimed the class action lawsuit has no merit.
"This baseless lawsuit seeks an unprecedented expansion of the law by attempting to impose liability on a company that did not make the product that allegedly caused the damage, did not sell the product that allegedly caused the damage, and, in fact, warned against the very use of the product alleged in the complaint," the statement by Monsanto read. "If any of the damage alleged in the complaint was actually caused by use of the non-Monsanto herbicide product over Monsanto's Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, that use was illegal and performed by third parties over whom Monsanto has no control."
The statement from Monsanto continued.
"This suit is simply an attempt to shift responsibility away from individuals who knowingly and intentionally broke state and federal law and harmed their neighbors in the process. The lawsuit is wholly without merit, and we will defend ourselves accordingly."
Monsanto also stated the company issued warnings about dicamba.
"Other herbicides are approved for use with Monsanto's Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans and Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton, and both offer many benefits other than dicamba tolerance. Bollgard II XtendFlex offers tolerance to both glyphosate and glufosinate herbicides and includes many of our most advanced cotton varieties. Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans are tolerant to glyphosate and include our newest, highest yielding soybean varieties.Due to the superior quality of these seed varieties, coupled with the ability to make in-crop applications of approved herbicide products, they offered farmers strong yield potential -- even without the ability to make in-crop applications of dicamba herbicide. In fact, Monsanto did not charge growers for the dicamba trait because the herbicide had not been approved for over-the-top use. Moreover, before, during and after farmers purchased their seed, Monsanto took many steps to warn growers, dealers and applicators that dicamba was not approved for in-crop use. Simply put, Monsanto does not condone or encourage the illegal use of any pesticide. We remain confident that most farmers abide by the law, but if some did not, they should bear responsibility in this instance."
Late last year, the law firm filed the first known lawsuit against Monsanto on behalf of Missouri's largest peach producer, Bader Farms of Campbell, MO.
That suit claims in 2015 the Baders lost more than 7,000 peach trees and $1.5 million in gross sales due to dicamba spraying. The farm reportedly lost more than 30,000 peach trees the following year to dicamba drift.
Dicamba spraying is also blamed for a deadly shooting last October near Leachville.
Allan Curtis Jones, 26, faces a first-degree murder charge after investigators say he shot and killed Mike Wallace during an argument over dicamba drifting onto Wallace's crops.
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