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Flashback: Monsanto ordered to pay $2.4 million to settle lawsuit involving illegal GM wheat

GM wheat

(NaturalNews) Monsanto is finally being held liable for genetically engineered wheat that was found growing illegally on an Oregon farm in 2013. The "Roundup Ready" wheat genetically modified to withstand applications of glyphosate has been tested in 16 states, including Oregon, from 1998 to 2005, but has never been approved, for reasons that remain unclear.

A farmer discovered the GM wheat when he found it growing like a weed where it wasn't expected. He sprayed the plant with Roundup and noticed that some of it survived, reports Grist.org. He then sent samples of the wheat to a laboratory that later confirmed the wheat's GMO status.

While the biotech giant downplayed incident, others didn't react so calmly. Anti-GMO countries including Japan, South Korea and those of the European Union (EU) temporarily suspended all U.S. wheat orders, fearing that the supply might be contaminated with GMOs.

Monsanto ordered to pay up for illegal GM wheat found growing in Oregon in 2013, despite claims the company stopped testing the experimental plant 10 years ago

On Wednesday, November 12, Monsanto reached a settlement with U.S wheat farmers who sued the seed company over "market disruption" following discovery of the unapproved GMO wheat growing in Oregon, reports confirm.

Monsanto, who said they stopped testing the GM wheat at least a decade ago, reportedly destroyed or "stored away" all of the experimental grain.

The settlement included the biotech company being ordered to pay $250,000 to wheat growers' associations, including $100,000 to the National Wheat Foundation and $50,000 each to the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, the Oregon Wheat Growers' League and the Idaho Grain Producers' Association.

While Monsanto says it does not admit liability, the company wished to avoid a long, drawn-out legal battle, therefore agreeing to pay up.

The seed company was also ordered to pay $2.125 million into a settlement fund for farmers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho who sold soft white wheat between May 30, 2013, and November 30, 2013. Plaintiffs will be reimbursed for their out-of-pocket legal fees as well.

"At least three class action lawsuits will be dismissed as part of the settlement, but the company said it does not resolve pending claims by growers of wheat other than the soft white variety," reports Fortune.com.

Monsanto downplays incident involving unapproved GMO wheat

A statement on Monsanto's website tried to offer assurance by stating that an annual average of 58 million acres of GM wheat have been planted over the last decade; however, there's only been one report of Roundup Ready wheat growing illegally.

Well, that statement was issued in 2013, before GM wheat was, yet again, discovered growing illegally, but this time in Montana.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) responsible for regulating GMOs, found GM wheat growing at Montana State University's Southern Agricultural Research Center in Huntley, Montana, in July 2014.

The facility was granted permits by APHIS to test GM wheat between 2000 and 2003; however, the testing was not permitted at the time that it was discovered.

The ongoing investigation by APHIS noted that the GM wheat found growing in Montana was "significantly different" from the GM wheat discovered in Oregon the previous year; however, the specific differences were not made known in the agency's report.

Investigators say their focus is to figure out why GM wheat was found growing at the research facility. APHIS said they will also take "several additional steps" to ensure that GM wheat is not growing in other U.S. locations where field trials were previously approved.

"APHIS will inspect field trials planted this year and then conduct inspections after harvest," reports NaturallySavvy.com.

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