Tag Archive | "Lawsuit"

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ConAgra Anti-GMO Lawsuit Has Big Implications for Food Labeling

Posted on 02 September 2011 by admin

Product labeling is an area where loopholes and CSR seem to converge. It is precisely these loopholes that make it easy for companies to engage in a degree of greenwash but there is a thin line between ‘greenwash’ and ‘misleading the consumer.’  A recent lawsuit against ConAgra proves this point. The American food giant that owns several brands like Healthy Choice, Wesson, Slim Jim, & Banquet has been under attack for alleged false labeling.

The Food Safety News reports that its Wesson brand of cooking oil has been slapped with various lawsuits for claiming to be “all natural.” This deceptive marketing suit was brought against ConAgra in June by Millberg LLP. It could actually make food manufacturers think twice about bandying about the word ‘natural.’ Four Wesson varieties are implicated in the case: Canola Oil, Vegetable Oil, Corn Oil, and Best Blend, all of which have the  ”100% natural” claim on their labels.  However, the products include a number of genetically modified organisms (GMO).

The problem of course does not reside only with Wesson. There are thousands of processed food items that line grocery shelves that have the ‘natural’ label but are known to contain GMOs. 85% of US corn and 91% of soybean is genetically modified – both of these are common ingredients in processed food either by themselves or in the form of derivatives like soya lecithin, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch etc. 90% of Americans want full disclosure on their food products which may mean that every major food company needs to overhaul its labeling policies.

This is a very significant breakthrough for anti-GMO campaigners because it shows how much consumer choice actually affects companies. This is also a case for those companies and governments pushing forintroduction of GMO in their countries. India is currently in the midst of signing off on a bill that will enable the free production of GMO fruit and vegetables. This would be a potentially calamitous move due to the lack of labeling laws in India as well as the fact that the country by and large still follows a bulk-bin system of buying produce.

Con Agra might be able to wriggle its way out of the suit. Its recent disclosure report revealed that it spent $100,000 in the second quarter on lobbying government officials on agriculture programs, ethanol regulations, etc. According to the report it filed, the company lobbied the FDA, the Department of Agriculture and the Office of Management and Budget, apart from Congress. I wonder how much of this went towards GMO lobbying.

Food companies can no longer hide behind ambiguous labels like ‘natural’ because food essentially is natural! The label itself is an oxymoron. With the advent of the suit on Con Agra, it is necessary for other companies to question their methods of labeling and/or food sourcing so that they are not open to liabilities. Currently under US laws, GMOs are not required to be labelled but labeling a product ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ when it does contain GMO is misleading to the consumer. Surely that is illegal?

“ If they have to put the word ‘natural’ on a box to convince you, it probably isn’t “

- Eric Schlosser, author, Fast Food Nation

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Court rules Organic Farmers Can SUE Conventional GMO Farmers whose Pesticides ‘Trespass’ and Contaminate Their Fields

Posted on 03 August 2011 by admin

(NaturalNews) Purveyors of conventional and genetically-modified (GM) crops — and the pesticides and herbicides that accompany them — are finally getting a taste of their own legal medicine. Minnesota’sStar Tribunehas reported that the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently ruled that a large organic farm surrounded by chemical-laden conventional farms can seek damages for lost crops, as well as lost profits, caused by the illegal trespassing of pesticides and herbicides on its property.

Oluf and Debra Johnson’s 1,500-acreorganicfarm in Stearns County, Minn., has repeatedly been contaminated by nearby conventional and GMOfarmssince the couple started it in the 1990s. A localpesticidecooperative known as Paynesville Farmers Union (PFU), which is near the farm, has been cited at least four times for violating pesticidelaws, and inadvertently causing damage to the Johnson’s farm.

The first time it was realized thatpesticideshad drifted onto the Johnson’s farm in 1998, PFU apologized, but did not agree to pay for damages. As anyone with an understanding of organic practices knows, even a small bit ofcontaminationcan result in having to plow under that season’s crops, forgetprofits, and even lose the ability to groworganic cropsin the same field for at least a couple years.

The Johnson’s let the first incident slide. But after the second, third, and fourth times, they decided that enough was enough. Following the second pesticide drift in 2002, the Johnson’s filed a complaint with the Minnesota Agriculture Department, which eventually ruled that PFU had illegally sprayedchemicalson windy days, which led to contamination of the Johnson’s organiccrops.

PFU settled with the Johnson’s out of court, and the Johnson’s agreed to sell their tainted products as non-organics for a lower price, and pull the fields from production for three years in order to bring them back up to organic standards. But PFU’s inconsiderate spraying habits continued, with numerous additional incidents occurring in 2005, 2007, and 2008, according to theStar Tribune.

After enduring much hardship, the Johnson’s finally ended up suing PFU in 2009 for negligence and trespass, only to receive denial from the district court that received the case. But after appealing, the Johnson’s received favor from the Appeals Court, which ruled that particulate matter, including pesticides,herbicides, and even GM particulates, that contaminates nearby fields is, in fact, consideredillegaltrespass, and is subject to the same laws concerning other forms of trespass.

In a similar case, a California-based organic farm recently won a $1 millionlawsuitfiled against a conventional farm whose pesticides spread through fog from several miles away, and contaminated its fields. Jacobs Farm / Del Cobo’s entire season’sherbcrop had to be discarded as a result, and the court that presided over the case acknowledged and agreed that the polluters must be held responsible (http://organicfood.einnews.com/arti…).

Precedent has now been set fororganic farmersto sue biotechnology companies whose GMOs contaminate their crops

The stunning victories of both the Johnson’s and Jacob’s Farm / Del Cobo against their chemical-polluting neighbors is huge, in that it represents a new set legal precedent for holding conventional, factory farming operations responsible for the damage their systems cause to other farms. And with this new precedent set, many more organicfarmers, for instance, can now begin suingGMOfarmers for both chemical and genetic pollution that drifts onto their farms.

ManyNaturalNewsreaders will recall the numerous incidents involving lawsuits filed byMonsantoagainst non-GMO farms whose crops were inadvertently contaminated by GM material. In many of these cases, the defendants ended up becoming bankrupted by Monsanto, even though Monsanto’s patented materials were the trespassers at fault.

Be sure to check out the extensive and very informative report compiled by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) entitledMonsanto vs. U.S. Farmersfor a complete history of Monsanto’s war against traditional American agriculture:http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/…

But it appears that the tables are now turning. Instead of Monsanto winning against organic farmers, organic farmers can now achieve victory against Monsanto. In other words, farmers being infringed upon by the drifting of GM material into their fields now have a legal leg to stand on in the pursuit of justice against Monsanto and the other biotechnology giants whose “frankencrops” are responsible for causing widespread contamination of the Americanfoodsupply.

Genetic traits are highly transmissible, whether it be through pollen transfer or seed spread, and organic andnon-GMOfarmers have every right to seek damages for illegal trespassing when such transmission takes place. It is expected that many more organic farms will step up and begin seeking justice and compensation for damage caused by crop chemicals, GM materials, and other harmful invaders.

For too long, Monsanto has been getting away with suing farmers whose crops have become contaminated by Monsanto’s patented genetic traits and chemical materials, and winning. Thankfully, the justice system seems to now recognize the severe error in this, and is now beginning to rightfully hold polluters and trespassers responsible. Monsanto, your days are numbered.

Sources for this story include:

http://www.startribune.com/local/12…

Learn more:http://www.naturalnews.com/033216_GMO_contamination_lawsuits.html#ixzz1avVo1iIi

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USDA sued over GMO Sugar Beet permits

Posted on 09 September 2010 by admin

(Reuters) – Groups opposed to genetically modified foods announced a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday over the agency’s recent decision to allow limited plantings of altered sugar beets.

According to a copy of the complaint provided to Reuters by the plaintiffs, the USDA’s decision violates an August court ruling that prohibited future plantings of genetically modified sugar beets. Last week, the USDA announced it would issue permits for seed producers to make plantings that would not be allowed to flower.

But the plaintiffs, which include the Center for Food Safety and the Sierra Club, argue in their lawsuit that these plantings could still contaminate neighboring crops. The complaint asks a judge to forbid the planting of any genetically modified sugar beet plants.

A USDA spokesman declined to comment, as did a representative of Monsanto Co , which is not a defendant in the lawsuit but is cited as a developer of genetically modified sugar beets.

The USDA has said it would take at least two years to develop new regulations in response to the overall ban issued last month by U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White, who sits in the Northern District of California in San Francisco. Sugar beets account for over half the U.S. sugar supply, but conventional beets remain widely available.

At issue are beets that are modified to resist a Monsanto herbicide, Roundup, which Monsanto sees as a way to improve crop yields and opponents see as driving evolution of dangerous weeds that overcome the herbicide treatment.

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Judge BANS Monsanto’s GMO Sugar Beets

Posted on 15 August 2010 by admin

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge has revoked the government’s approval of genetically altered sugar beets until regulators complete a more thorough review of how the scientifically engineered crops affect other food.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White Friday means sugar beet growers won’t be able to use the modified seeds after harvesting the biotechnology beets already planted on more than 1 million acres spanning 10 states from Michigan to Oregon. All the seed comes from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Additional planting won’t be allowed until the U.S. Department of Agriculture submits an environmental impact statement. That sort of extensive examination can take two or three years.

White declined a request to issue an injunction that would have imposed a permanent ban on the biotech beets, which Monsanto Co. developed to resist its popular weed killer, Roundup Ready. Farmers have embraced the technology as a way to lower their costs on labor, fuel and equipment.

The Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance and Sierra Club have been trying to uproot the biotech beets since filing a 2008 lawsuit.

Andrew Kimbrell, the Center for Food Safety’s executive director, hailed Friday’s decision as a major victory in the fight against genetically engineered crops and chided the Agriculture Department for approving the genetically engineered seeds without a full environmental review.

“Hopefully, the agency will learn that their mandate is to protect farmers, consumers and the environment and not the bottom line of corporations such as Monsanto,” Kimbrell said in a statement.

Attempts to reach the Agriculture Department for comment Saturday were unsuccessful. Monsanto, based in St. Louis, referred requests for comment to the America Sugarbeet Growers Association, which pointed to a Saturday statement from the Sugar Industry Biotech Council.

In the statement, the sugar beet council said it intends to help the Agriculture Department come up with “interim measures” that would allow continued production of the genetically altered seeds while regulators conduct their environmental review.

If a temporary solution isn’t found, the planting restrictions are likely to cause major headaches for sugar beet growers and food processors.

The genetically altered sugar beets provide about one-half of the U.S. sugar supply and some farmers have warned there aren’t enough conventional seeds and herbicide to fill the void. The scientific seeds account for about 95 percent of the current sugar beet crop in the U.S.

“The value of sugar beet crops is critically important to rural communities and their economies,” the Sugar Industry Biotech Council said Saturday.

White expressed little sympathy for any disruption his decision might cause. He noted in his 10-page ruling that regulators had time to prepare for the disruption because he had already overturned the deregulation of the genetically altered beets in a decision issued last September.

The Agriculture Department “has already had more than sufficient time to take interim measures, but failed to act expediently,” White wrote.

Organic farmers, food safety advocates and conservation groups contend genetically altered crops such as the sugar beets could share their genes with conventionally grown food, such as chard and table beets.

Those arguments helped persuade another federal judge in San Francisco to stop the planting of genetically altered alfalfa seeds in 2007 pending a full environmental review that still hasn’t been completed.

Monsanto took that case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in June overturned an injunction against the company’s sale of the modified seeds.

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Supreme Court rules against ban on GMO alfalfa, but requires complete safety study first

Posted on 08 August 2010 by admin

(NaturalNews) The battle continues as agri-giant Monsanto pushes to have its genetically-modified (GM) alfalfa approved for use in the U.S. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Monsanto by ruling against a lower court’s nationwide ban on the GM alfalfa; however, the court is requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to complete a comprehensive safety study before the “franken-crop” can officially be approved.

The whole thing started when the USDA first approved Monsanto’s GM alfalfa back in 2007. The Center for Food Safety (CFS) immediately filed a lawsuit against the approval, citing valid concerns that the seeds would take over pasture lands and become uncontrollable. The federal district judge who heard the case agreed, ruling also that the USDA had acted irresponsibly by failing to complete an environmental safety study prior to approving the seeds for planting. The same judge banned GM alfalfa nationwide.

The reason why GM alfalfa is particularly dangerous is that alfalfa is an aggressive spreader, and would likely end up in all sorts of fields, including organic ones. Alfalfa is typically used to feed dairy cattle, so if GM alfalfa is ever approved, it could destroy the entire organic beef and dairy industry. In the long term, it could ruin the entire organic food industry.

However, the Supreme Court recently ruled 7-to-1 that a nationwide ban was inappropriate, but it has allowed the ban to stay in place until the USDA completes the necessary Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

According to the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH), Monsanto was quick to spin the ruling as being in its favor, essentially telling the media that it had won a victory. But truth be told, the nationwide ban on GM alfalfa is still in place, and planting the crop is still illegal. Though the ruling allows Monsanto to move forward in trying to gain approval, there is no guarantee that the multi-national giant will be successful.

Part of the EIS process involves reviewing the more than 200,000 public comments received since December 2009 concerning GM alfalfa, most of which are likely in protest of the crop.

So it is important to keep letting your voice be heard on important issues like this one, especially when there is an open comment period. 200,000 people voiced their opinions about GM alfalfa, and this could greatly influence the USDA’s final decision in the matter.

Sources:

Supreme Court Kicks Critical Genetically Modified Alfalfa Issue Down The Road – Alliance for Natural Health

Genetically Modified Foods: More Reason to Avoid Them; Why They Threaten Organic Agriculture

Dangers of Genetically Engineered Foods – Institute for Responsible Technology

Learn more:http://www.naturalnews.com/029407_GMOs_alfalfa.html#ixzz1auqqYWiL

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Nearly 100 MORE Cancer lawsuits filed against monsanto

Posted on 26 August 2009 by admin

By Chris Dickerson -Putnam Bureau

WINFIELD – Three weeks after an original 50 were filed, nearly 100 more lawsuits have been filed alleging Monsanto and related companies are responsible for causing cancer.

Like the other 50 filed earlier this month, the 97 newest complaints filed Aug. 24 in Putnam Circuit Court say Monsanto and its successor companies caused cancer by exposing the plaintiffs to dioxins/furans contamination of the air and property in and around Nitro. The cases mention the “negligent and otherwise unlawful release of dioxin from defendants’ waste disposal practices on properties … located in and about Nitro, West Virginia.”

These individual cases, filed by Stuart Calwell and The Calwell Firm of Charleston, are not part of an ongoing class action involving thousands of current and former Nitro residents alleging Monsanto polluted the area with dioxin. The class action case specifies no specific damages, and the class-action plaintiffs seek medical monitoring.

The plaintiffs in the 147 new cases, also represented by Calwell, are residents and former residents of Nitro or one or more of several surrounding communities of the now defunct chemical plant located near Nitro. They lived, worked or attended school in Nitro. Some of the plaintiffs are deceased, and those suits are filed by family members.

Monsanto owned and operated the plant from 1934 to 2000. From 1949 to 1970, the company produced an herbicide that was heavily contaminated with dibenzo dioxins and dibenzo furans. The complaints say the company disposed of the dioxin-contaminated waste in a way which caused dioxins to escape into the air.

The plaintiffs say their property and soil was contaminated.

“During the years that Old Monsanto was operating it’s trichlorophenol plant, it adopted an unlawful practice of disposing of dioxin waste materials by a continuous process of open ‘pit’ burning,” the complaints state. “This practice was largely denied by Old Monsanto whose representatives characterized the practice as an ‘incineration process’ when asked by regulatory authorities.

“Old Monsanto and its successors … failed to adequately control the dioxin contaminated soils and other dioxin contaminated waste materials both on and off the plant site. Dioxins/furans continued to be re-deposited and re-distributed from the plant site and the off-site dumps so as to continue the process of air and property contamination.”

The complaints say the defendants knew of the dangers.

The defendants “should have known of the highly toxic properties of dioxin and that dioxin was and is a known promoter of cancer and that dioxin was and is a known human carcinogen,” the complaints state. The defendants “knew that the area around the Monsanto plant was populated with permanent residents who would likely live out their lives in the area contaminated.”

The complaints also detail the history of Monsanto and the company’s knowledge regarding dioxin. The Nitro plant produced herbicides, rubber products and other chemicals, including Agent Orange.

Dioxin has been linked to cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities, endometriosis, infertility and suppressed immune functions.

The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages for medical bills past and future, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life. They also seek punitive damages for the “willful, wanton and reckless” actions of the defendants “evidencing a callous disregard for the health and wellbeing of the residents of the Nitro area.”

Putnam Circuit Court case numbers 09-C-243 through 09-C-282 and 09-C-315 through 09-C-411

http://www.wvrecord.com/news/220760-nearly-100-more-cancer-lawsuits-filed-against-monsanto

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Illinois residents file 6th PCB lawsuit

Posted on 03 August 2009 by admin

By Kelly Holleran

One more group of Illinois residents who live in or near Sauget have filed a separate lawsuit over the release of various hazardous substances they claim have created a severe health risk and have contaminated their properties.

The 37 plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed July 29 against Cerro Flow Products, Inc., Pharmacia Corporation, Solutia, Inc., Pfizer and Monsanto AG Products are the sixth group of residents to file complaints against the companies this year.

The first was a class action lawsuit filed in February; the second was a lawsuit involving 21 plaintiffs filed June 5; the third was a lawsuit involving 19 plaintiffs filed June 11; the fourth was a lawsuit involving four plaintiffs filed June 19; and the fifth was a lawsuit involving 30 plaintiffs filed June 26. All are nearly identical to the July 29 complaint.

In all complaints, plaintiffs argue that three release sites – a 90 acre landfill operated by Sauget and Co., a 314-acre W.G. Krummrich Plant and property owned by Cerro Flow Products – have released PCBs and other various substances, including dioxins and furans, into the atmosphere for more than 70 years.

Some of the plaintiffs in the July 29 lawsuit say they have developed cancer and other life-threatening diseases as a result of their exposure to the PCBs, which have been shown to result in toxic effects in the brain and nervous system and in low birth rates and birth defects.

“According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, a lifetime dose of one milligram of PCBs is sufficient to cause cancer and other serious and life-threatening diseases,” the suit states. “According to the World Health Organization, there is not a safe level of exposure to PCBs.”

Dioxins and furans, which were also released at the site, according to the complaint, are also known to be dangerous and to create significant health problems through inhalation, ingestion, dermal absorption and ingestion of homegrown produce.

Other plaintiffs in the July 29 complaint say the PCBs have damaged their property.

For example, the chemicals released by the companies discharge into surface waters, resulting in the contamination of soil and dust. They are also discharged into wastewater, causing water and soil to become contaminated, the suit claims.

The releases began after the W.G. Krummrich Plant, which is also referred to as the Monsanto Facility in the complaint, began producing, storing and disposing PCBs at its facility, the residents claim.

In fact, “more PCBs were produced at the Monsanto Facility than at any other site in the United States, and perhaps even the free world,” the suit states.

Cerro, which owns land adjacent to the Monsanto Facility, recycles copper. Part of that work entails scrapping PCB transformers, draining wastewater and PCB oil into the Dead Creek and landfilling substances on its facility. In turn, those activities cause large quantities of the toxic substances to be released into the environment, according to the complaint.

At Sauget and Co., millions of tons of the toxic substances were disposed of in its landfill, residents allege.

The combined activities of the three companies released the deadly substances into the environment through smokestack emissions, wind erosion, smoke from fires in waste piles and airborne releases, according to the complaint.

Plaintiffs say the defendants knew about the potential consequences of the chemicals’ releases, but attempted to conceal health risks and property contamination from the public.

“To this day, one or more of the Monsanto Defendants and their consultants are actively engaged in a campaign of deception to mislead the residents and real property owners of communities adjacent to the Release Sites, including the Plaintiffs, into believing that the Substances do not present, and have never presented, any threat to the residents or to the real property of those adjacent communities,” the complaint says.

Claims in the July complaint include negligence, strict liability, nuisance,battery and trespass.

In each of the seven-count suits, plaintiffs are seeking a judgment in excess of $800,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

They are represented by the same group of lawyers who filed the February and June complaints — Robert Leslie Palmer, Gregory A. Cade, H. Gregory Harp, Christina E. Wall and Mark L. Rowe, of Birmingham, Ala; Paul G. Schoen of Schoen, Walton, Telken and Foster in East St. Louis and James L. “Larry” Wright of Austin.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-404.

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DuPont accuses Monsanto of anti-competitive action

Posted on 05 May 2009 by admin

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — DuPont (DD 28.11, +0.48, +1.74%) on Tuesday claimed Monsanto (MON 90.08, +4.12, +4.79%) is only interested in preserving its monopoly and stressed that it will “fight” the company’s efforts to limit availability of competitive products. “Monsanto has a long history of using litigation and aggressive tactics to preserve their monopoly and attempt to intimidate customers, seed partners and competitors,” James Borel, DuPont group vice president, said in a statement. Monsanto filed a lawsuit Monday evening in a St. Louis federal court accusing DuPont of stealing intellectual property associated with the genetic traits of its Roundup Ready unit.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dupont-accuses-monsanto-of-anti-competitive-action?dist=msr_2

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Monsanto sues DuPont over genetic-seed traits

Posted on 05 May 2009 by admin

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Monsanto Co. (MON 90.08, +4.12, +4.79%) has accused DuPont Co. (DD 28.11, +0.48, +1.74%) of stealing intellectual property associated with the genetic traits of its Roundup Ready unit designed to make soybeans and corn more tolerant to its herbicide. Monsanto filed a lawsuit Monday evening in a St. Louis federal court to prevent what it calls the unlawful use of the traits by DuPont’s wholly-owned Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. Specifically, Monsanto said Pioneer is using Roundup Ready traits to mask problems with their Optimum GAT trait. “This violates Monsanto’s contract rights and U.S. patents,” the company said in a Tuesday morning release.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/monsanto-sues-dupont-over-genetic-seed-traits?dist=msr_7

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Monsanto Grows a Genetically Modified Blogger

Posted on 04 May 2009 by admin

Mean Joe Green #61: Monsanto Grows a Genetically Modified Blogger

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