Last month, agrochemicals company Monsanto, now a part of Bayer AG, pleaded guilty to spraying a banned pesticide on research crops in Maui, Hawaii.
Monsanto entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice for spraying methyl parathion, the active ingredient in Penncap-M, on crops in 2014 despite knowing the Environmental Protection Agency had prohibited its use after 2013, Reuters reported.
The agrochemicals company also admitted it sent employees back into the area seven days after the spraying even though it knew workers needed to be kept from entering for 31 days, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“The illegal conduct in this case posed a threat to the environment, surrounding communities and Monsanto workers,” United States Attorney Nick Hanna said in a news release. “Federal laws and regulations impose a clear duty on every user of regulated and dangerous chemicals to ensure the products are safely stored, transported and used.”
According to the release, Monsanto, which is now owned by pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG, has agreed to pay $10 million for charges it unlawfully stored the pesticide, which is classified as “an acute hazardous waste.” The money includes a $6 million criminal fine and $4 million in “community service payments to Hawaiian government entities.”
Under the agreement, prosecutors will dismiss the felony charges in two years if Monsanto abides by the agreement and complies with U.S. environmental laws on its sites in Hawaii, as stated in the release.
Following the announcement by Hanna, Bayer released a statement acknowledging that Monsanto “did not live up to its own standards or the applicable laws.”
“As stewards of the land, it is our responsibility to use agriculture products safely and to manage our waste correctly,” Darren Wallis, Bayer Vice President of Communications, North America, said in the statement. “We take this very seriously and accept full responsibility for our actions.”
Monsanto’s guilty plea adds to the ongoing legal troubles Bayer has faced since acquiring the agrochemicals company for $63 billion in 2018. Since then, Bayer has lost three U.S. jury cases linking Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup with cancer. In October, Bayer said it is now facing 42,700 similar cases.
Originally published December 17, 2019
By Emma Schkloven
Emma Schkloven is an award-winning reporter based in Virginia. She graduated in 2014 with a degree in English. Her work has been picked up by The Associated Press and The Washington Post, and her bylines have appeared in The Baltimore Sun, The Las Vegas Sun and The News & Advance in Lynchburg, Virginia.