Monsanto Faces $2.5 Million Fine For Misleading Labels
The EPA recently announced that Monsanto has agreed* to pay a $2.5 million penalty for misbranding violations involving the sale and distribution of cotton seed products containing genetically engineered pesticides.
“People who manufacture and distribute pesticide products must follow the federal registration requirements,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “These requirements are critical to preventing the development and spread of insect resistance.”
Monsanto Bollgard and Bollgard II cotton seed products contain genetically engineered pesticides known as plant incorporated protectants (PIPs), which are registered as a pesticidal product under FIFRA. As a condition of the registrations, the EPA placed planting restrictions on Bollgard and Bollgard II, which contain the PIP Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in 10 Texas counties to protect against pests becoming resistant to Bt PIPs and other microbial products used in sprays and dusts.
Monsanto was required to control the sale and distribution of the cotton seed by including information on the planting restrictions in its labeling and grower guides.
It has since been discovered that between 2002 and 2007, the company distributed or sold the cotton products more than 1,700 times nationwide without the planting restrictions in its grower guides and that Bollgard and Bollgard II cotton was planted in the restricted counties. Monsanto subsequently corrected the grower guides by including the required planting restriction for the Bollgard and Bollgard II products, but the damage has already been done.
Although this is the largest civil administrative penalty settlement ever received under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), it can be argued that the fine arrives three years late, and is merely a slap on the wrist for this international corporation. Who knows how many other restricted products are being knowingly distributed around the world, without regard for the lives or ecosystems they’re destroying?
*In September 2008, EPA lifted the planting restriction in the 10 Texas counties for Bollgard II, after Monsanto applied for a change in the registration of that product. So basically, they get away with their incredibly damaging actions by throwing some money at the EPA and shuffling some papers around.