ST. LOUIS, MO – The Monsanto Company, a currently defunct agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation, has reached a plea agreement where they will plead guilty and pay $12 million in fines relating to 30 environmental crimes involving the use and storage of banned pesticides, according to court documents filed in Hawaii last week.
U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison noted that Monsanto was often assailed for its negative impact on the environment and human health.
“Monsanto is a serial violator of federal environmental laws,” she said. “The company repeatedly violated laws related to highly regulated chemicals, exposing people to pesticides that can cause serious health problems.”
Monsanto – founded in 1901 and acquired by German chemical company Bayer in 2018 for $66 billion, which dropped the Monsanto name but retained the company’s product brands – was accused of crimes relating to the use of pesticides on Hawaii cornfields and the storage of a banned pesticide.
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Among the charges Monsanto pleaded guilty to was allowing workers on 30 occasions in 2020 to enter a Oahu cornfield that had been sprayed with Forfeit 280 – a dangerous glufosinate ammonium-based pesticide – before a “restricted-entry interval” (REI) had passed, exposing their employees to significant risk.
Additional guilty pleas in the agreement include illegally storing an acute hazardous waste in the form of a banned pesticide, and illegally spraying Penncap-M – which contains methyl parathion, a banned pesticide – on research crops at the company’s Maui facility.
The plea agreement that Monsanto agreed to will see the company pay fines in the amount of $12 million, serve three years of probation, and adhere to a comprehensive environmental compliance program – which will be overseen by independent auditors – for an additional three years, according to Scot Adair of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“The defendant in this case failed to follow regulations governing the storage of hazardous wastes and the application of pesticides, putting people and the environment at risk,” he said. “Today’s plea agreement shows that EPA will hold responsible those who violate laws designed to protect communities from exposure to hazardous chemicals.”