Monsanto is being sued over its genetically engineered wheat (GE wheat) by a Kansas farmer. The biotech giant that has been lambasted for suing American farmers for stealing its “intellectual property” is now facing an agriculture lawsuit itself. Morton County wheat farmer Ernest Barnes filed a genetic pollution lawsuit against Monsanto in the US District Court in Wichita earlier this week.
The Monsanto lawsuit comes on the heels of an announcement about GMO wheat being discovered on an Oregon farm. As previously reported by Off The Grid News, the biotech company claims to have no idea how the GE wheat sprouted in the farm. Wheat prices took a nosedive after the discovery and multiple foreign governments cancelled plans to buy wheat from American farms. Genetically engineered wheat has never been approved by the USDA and is not supposed to be grown commercially in the United States.
The Ernest Barnes vs. Monsanto lawsuit maintains that the biotech company realized there was a high risk the GMO wheat could contaminate natural varieties of wheat when engaging in field tests. Kansas was among the 17 states where Monsanto tested GE wheat. Although a Monsanto statement about the mysterious genetically engineered wheat discovery noted the trial ended in 2005 and such wheat could have only sprouted for the next year or two, Bloomberg discovered a USDA tracking report which noted a similar trial originated in 2011. Monsanto maintains that the new trial was not in Oregon and was a different strain of GE wheat.
The GMO company stated that it would engage in a “vigorous defense” against the Kansas farmer’s genetic pollution lawsuit. Ernest Barnes feels that both he and other wheat farmers have been harmed financially by the GE wheat discovery in Oregon. The lawsuit also states that Monsanto’s experimental seeds could create a substantial loss in both the domestic wheat market and for exports.
An excerpt from the 25-page long, genetically-engineered wheat lawsuit reads:
“Through negligence or gross negligence, Monsanto has released GE wheat into the non-genetically modified wheat population. Farmers like Plaintiff Barnes have been injured significantly as a result as the price for their wheat drops and markets close previously open doors. Plaintiffs seek damages commensurate with their injury.”
The lawsuit goes on to detail the synthetic consumables history of the biotech mega-corporation. Monsanto was reportedly founded in 1901 to create saccharin, a synthetic sweetener. In 1945, Monsanto began manufacturing and promoting farming chemicals and agricultural biotechnology products. During the 1980s, Monsanto became the first company to genetically modify a plant cell.
Although GMO crops and the GMO labeling debate has only recently garnered nationwide attention, Monsanto began conducting the first field trials of such products in 1987. The biotech company was given its first regulatory approval for a GMO product in 1994. During a campaign speech in Iowa, President Barack Obama stated that Americans have a “right” to know what is in the food sold in stores. His theory on the matter has apparently evolved, because he has done nothing to support GMO labeling efforts and has appointed numerous Monsanto staffers to high-level position in the USDA. First Lady Michelle Obama touts the benefits of organic food and reportedly does not use GMO seeds in the White House garden. Apparently, farm fresh and untainted food is a necessity for the president and his family while the rest of us are forced to unknowingly consume GMO crops.
Homesteading expert and author Melissa Norris had this to say about GE wheat and Monsanto:
“We have to stop believing that government and Monsanto have our best interests in hand and will protect our food supplies. The only way to get through to them is to speak their language, which is greed and money. If we stop buying their products, they’ll listen when it hurts their bottom line. We can grow it ourselves and purchase products with the non-GMO project label, verifying it’s been tested and is GMO free.”
The Ernest Barnes Monsanto lawsuit also notes that Kansas is known as the “Wheat State” and is the nation’s leading wheat producer. According to the court filing, Kansas wheat farmers opt against growing GMO wheat because the crop has not scientifically been proven safe for long-term human consumption. Due to the lack of safety assurance, many foreign buyers and American consumers also choose to only use natural wheat, another reason Barnes believes only non-GMO crops are grown in his state. The spreading and ultimate contamination of genetically modified wheat into fields occupied by natural crops is also a concern noted in the Monsanto lawsuit.
Another Ernest Barnes’ lawsuit excerpt reads:
“Monsanto also knew that there was a high risk that the genetically modified wheat that was being tested could contaminate other varieties of wheat on Kansas property as well as other farms in Kansas by other means. Specifically, Monsanto knew that wheat is a cross-pollinating plant. As such, Monsanto knew that GE wheat stored, planted, and/or tested on Kansas property and any other property in the United States was likely to cross-pollinate with marketable, non-genetically modified wheat varieties, thereby contaminating these non-genetically modified varieties, permanently mutating them and forever modifying their genetic make-up, making the wheat unmarketable. Monsanto failed to keep proper safe zones between fields and failed to utilize other measures such as traps to prevent the GMO wheat from escaping the test areas and cross-pollinating and thereby contaminating fields that were supposed to only contain non-GMO wheat.”
The dangers of GMO field tests by Monsanto should have been self-evident. Unless the GE wheat was grown indoors, birds, bees, and storm and tornado winds could (and likely did) carry the wheat far beyond the test zones. Ernest Barnes’ lawsuit also raises new concerns about Monsanto’s testing habits. According to the text, the biotech giant also used the same farming equipment utilized in the GE wheat test zone on fields where only natural seed was being grown. Even if, and that’s a big if, workers hosed off the equipment, some tiny little seeds could have remained in the nooks and crannies of the equipment and found a new home in other fields.
There is no need to alter the bounty offered by God. The cross-contamination concerns about GMO crops are all too real. Organic farmers and folks who grow their own food on any level, will ultimately be pushed to build make-shift greenhouses to prevent GMO contamination and potential theft of intellectual property lawsuits by Monsanto and their eager competitors. The attempts by Monsanto to create a Roundup Ready queen bee are also extremely worrisome. Such a bee could eradicate the natural honeybee population in just a few years. The increased use of pesticides has already taken a drastic toll on the bee population. If Roundup Ready bees become a reality, every crop they pollinate will become tainted and become genetically modified on some level.
What do you think about the Ernest Barnes lawsuit against Monsanto?