Two additional putative class actions have been filed against Monsanto Co.,
alleging that the recent discovery of genetically modified (GM) wheat on a
farm in Oregon has harmed wheat farmers throughout the United States due
to diminished prices “resulting from loss of export and domestic markets”
and “increased grower costs resulting from the need to, inter alia, maintain
the integrity of the soft white wheat supply and/or to keep genetically
engineered wheat from further entering the general wheat supply and export
channels.” Dreger Enters. v. Monsanto Co., No. 12-211 (E.D. Wash.,
Spokane, filed June 5, 2013); Ctr. for Food Safety v. Monsanto Co., No. 13-213
(E.D. Wash., filed June 6, 2013). Like the suit filed by a Kansas
farmer, the plaintiffs allege nuisance, negligence and strict liability as to
Monsanto’s conduct of field tests of GM wheat throughout the country from
1998 to 2005. Information about the other lawsuit appears in Issue 486 of this
Update.

Meanwhile, a recent New York Times article reports that few were surprised
about the discovery. Scientists do not yet know how the strain re-emerged in
Oregon, but “[e]ven with extensive precautions, gene-altered plants turn up
in unwanted places regularly enough that farmers have come to consider a
few of them weeds, and even a threat to their livelihood.” Monsanto officials
have characterized the appearance of the GM wheat as “a random isolated
occurrence,” and most experts apparently agree that the wheat is not likely to
spread elsewhere. Still, concerns about the transfer of GM traits to wild plants
merit caution in approving GM crops, according to at least one environmental
scholar. “There has always been a worry with wheat,” said Portland State
University Professor David Ervin. “There’s going to be difficulty in controlling
those grasses, and you might have to resort to stronger herbicide treatments,
some of which have more environmental consequences.” See The New York
Times, June 5, 2013.

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

1 Comment

  1. […] crops have faced opposition from a number of areas as use of their products has spread, sometimes inadvertently. In the United States, multiple jurisdictions have banned GM crops, but courts have invalidated […]

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