Argentinian farmers suing Monsanto for ‘poisoning’
April 13, 2012
Monsanto is once again in the news. This time they and other corporations are being sued for allegedly “knowingly poisoning farmers” in Argentina.
Farmers from Argentina allege agri-giant Monsanto, together with Philip Morris and other U.S. tobacco companies, asked them to use chemicals on their crops. Said chemicals have allegedly caused “devastating birth defects.” The farmers say the corporations were aware of the implications but have failed to sufficiently warn farmers. The corporations thus were driven “by a desire for unwarranted economic gain and profit,” farmers say. The suit was filed this week at New Castle County Court, Delaware and Monsanto, Philip Morris Cos, Philip Morris USA, Carolina Leaf Tobacco, Universal Corporation and others are said to have “wrongfully caused the parental and infant plaintiffs to be exposed to those chemicals and substances which they both knew, or should have known, would cause the infant offspring of the parental plaintiffs to be born with devastating birth defects.” In a 55-page complaint filed with the court, it is alleged chemicals caused conditions to develop, including: “cerebral palsy, epilepsy, spina bifida, congenital heart defects, Down syndrome, missing fingers and blindness.”
The plaintiffs in the action are growers from mostly small and family-owned farms in the Misiones Province of Argentina. They say they were asked to use pesticide and herbicide products produced by Monsanto and that these were proven to be poisonous. Many of the farmers say they were forced to replace native tobacco crops with a variant that was favored by Philip Morris. This variant required more pesticides to harvest successfully. They were pushed to use Roundup, a Monsanto herbicide product. While the product was successful in killing the weeds, it apparently has terrible side effects due to the high concentration of the chemical glyphosate in the product.
The complaint claims: “Monsanto defendants, the Philip Morris defendants, and the Carolina Leaf defendants promoted the use of Roundup and other herbicides to tobacco farmers in Misiones even though they were on direct and explicit notice that at all relevant times farmers in Misiones, including the instant plaintiffs, lacked the necessary personal protective equipment and other safety knowledge and skills required to minimize harmful exposures to Roundup.” Attorneys further argue that both Monsanto and Philip Morris “actively recommended and/or required that contracted tobacco farmers, including the instant plaintiffs, purchase excessive quantities of Roundup and other pesticides” but that they failed to recommend the necessary protective measures to combat health risks. “The plaintiff tobacco farmers’ lack of training and instruction on the safe disposal of unused Roundup and other pesticides caused further exposure,” the complaint states. “Leftover pesticides were discarded in locations where they leached into the water supply.”
The suit is requesting financial compensation and punitive damages for “negligence, product liability, breach of warranty, ultra hazardous activity, aiding and abetting, willful and wanton misconduct and violations of Argentine laws”, according to the Courthouse News Service. In a recent Digital Journal article, Monsanto threatened to sue the state of Vermont, U.S.A. if legislators approved a bill forcing the labeling of GMO products. Following this threat Vermont suspended voting on the bill.