The US attorney’s office in Los Angeles said Thursday that the Monsanto company has agreed to plead guilty to 30 environmental crimes related to the use of a pesticide in cornfields in Hawaii.
The company also agreed to plead guilty to two other counts related to the storage of a banned pesticide that were the subject of a deferred prosecution agreement in 2019.
The 30 misdemeanors involved the use of an ammonium glufosinate product sold under the brand name Forfeit 280.
In total, the financial penalty for Monsanto is $ 22.2 million.
The case stems from an investigation by the US Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigations Division.
“After using the product in 2020 on corn fields in Oahu, Monsanto allowed workers to enter the fields for a ‘restricted entry interval’ of six days after application of the product,” according to statements from DOJ and EPA press.
Common press releases are based on court documents dropped off Thursday in Hawaii. The plea deal asks Monsanto to serve three years of probation, pay $ 12 million, and continue for three more years a comprehensive environmental compliance program that includes a third-party auditor.
“Monsanto is a serial violator of federal environmental laws,” said US lawyer Tracy L. Wilkison. “The company has repeatedly violated laws relating to highly regulated chemicals, exposing people to pesticides that can cause serious health problems.”
“The defendant in this case failed to comply with regulations governing the storage of hazardous waste and the application of pesticides, putting people and the environment at risk,” said Scot Adair, special agent in charge of the program. Hawaii EPA Law Enforcement.
“Lack of supervision”
In documents filed Thursday, Monsanto admitted that “due to Monsanto’s lack of oversight and supervision,” its employees violated a change to the restricted entry interval period after spraying. Forfeit 280.
Monsanto has violated federal insecticides, fungicides, and rodenticides law – which regulates the registration, sale, distribution, and use of pesticides – by failing to comply with the Forfeit 280 labeling. Monsanto has used it illegally the chemical at Oahu’s facilities at Lower Kunia and Haleiwa.
Under the 2019 Deferred Prosecution Agreement, which stemmed from spraying the banned pesticide Penncap-Mon on corn seeds and research crops at its Valley Farm facility in Maui in 2014, Monsanto agreed to pay 10 , $ 2 million: a criminal fine of $ 6 million, a fine of 200,000 fine for the FIFRA offense, and $ 4 million in community service payments to government agencies in Hawaii.
As part of the latest deal, Monsanto agreed to pay an additional criminal fine of $ 6 million and an additional $ 6 million in community service payments. Four agencies in the State of Hawaii will receive payments of $ 1.5 million:
- the Ministry of Agriculture, Revolving Fund for Pesticide Use – Pesticide Elimination Program / Pesticide Safety Training;
- Ministry of the Attorney General, Criminal Justice / Investigations Division;
- the Ministry of Health, Environmental Management Division, to support environmental health programs; and
- the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Aquatic Resources Division.
The sentence is subject to the approval of US District Judge J. Michael Seabright in Honolulu.
Monsanto then issued its own press release on the matter, which read in part:
“The conduct at issue in the agreement is unacceptable and contrary to company values and policies, and we sincerely regret it,” said Darren Wallis, vice president of communications for North America Crop Science. “To ensure good compliance, the company is taking significant corrective action to improve its controls, including strengthening its policies and procedures which now require a robust, multi-step approval process to authorize the use of pesticides on fields. in Hawaii, and improving its training. . Together, we are confident that these measures will ensure legal compliance and maintain our high safety standards. “
The statement also said that “no adverse health effects associated with the Hawaii business have been reported to the company.”