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Genetically-Engineered WheatJune 2013
Hausfeld LLP, a global plaintiffs’ law firm dedicated to handling complex and class action litigation, has filed the first class action lawsuit against Monsanto Company over its release of unauthorized genetically engineered wheat. The lawsuit was filed on Thursday, June 6 in the Eastern District of Washington on behalf of two Eastern Washington State farms that grow soft white wheat and a class of all domestic soft white wheat farmers.
Genetically-engineered wheat was discovered on an Eastern Oregon farm in May 2013. Monsanto field tested genetically-engineered wheat resistant to the herbicide Roundup in 16 states, including Oregon, from 1998 to 2005, but the wheat was never approved for planting and Monsanto indicated that it halted field trials nine years ago. The lawsuit contends that the discovery of Monsanto’s unapproved wheat has detrimentally affected the ability of soft white wheat farmers to sell their wheat into export channels. Nearly 90 percent of the Pacific Northwest’s soft white wheat crop is exported to Asian nations, where it is used to make noodles and crackers. The discovery of the unapproved genetically-engineered wheat, however, has promoted nations such as Japan and South Korea to cancel shipments and refuse to accept imports of U.S. soft white wheat. These import restrictions could prove financially devastating to soft white wheat farmers.
The lawsuit contends that Monsanto knew that the existence of genetically-engineered wheat, commingled within the general wheat supply, would cause significant disruptions in the wheat export market and financially damage wheat farmers. Despite this knowledge, Monsanto and its field trial operators failed to take the necessary steps to prevent conventional wheat from becoming contaminated with Monsanto’s genetically-engineered wheat through commingling and other means during the harvest, storage, transport and disposal process.
Tousley Brain Stephens PLLC, a Seattle-based law firm with experience in class action litigation, serves as co-counsel in the case. Hausfeld LLP has an active environmental tort litigation practice, and its attorneys previously served as co-lead counsel representing corn farmers in a national class action against the manufacturer of genetically-modified StarLink corn, which resulted in a $110 million settlement.
Hausfeld LLP is one of the leading class action firms in the world with offices in Washington, DC; San Francisco, CA; Philadelphia, PA; and London, UK and affiliated firms around the globe.
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