Monsanto Co. is no stranger to controversy, and after a number of farms in Oregon found a strain of its genetically modified wheat growing on farms unbeknownst to farmers, it was thrust into the limelight again. Now, the suits that were filed against the agricultural company will be consolidated in a Kansas City District court.
“At least 16 lawsuits will be sent to U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil in Kansas City for pretrial evidence gathering, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ruled,” reports Bloomberg. The ruling was made on Oct.16. The cases are being moved to be closer to Monsanto HQ.
The heart of the suits revolves around Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), crops and animals that have their genes altered in such a way that they become better adapted to certain conditions. The filings allege that after testing a strain of wheat that was modified to be resistant against the weed-killer Roundup, Monsanto did not destroy all of the plants at a testing field.
In the Oregon cases, modified plants found their way into local crops, and began to grow among the unmodified variety. Plaintiffs allege that this increases production cost, because of the effort needed to remove the plant.
While the debate on the morality and health effects of GMOs is as old as the science itself, one thing is clear, there are concise agricultural laws that forbid the growth of altered plants if they have not been approved by the FDA. This is primarily due to the fact that many countries will not import GMOs. Several nations stopped accepting shipments from the Oregon farms once the news had broken.
Monsanto has said that because the amount of GMO wheat found in the field was lower than 1 percent that it could have easily been hand planted. The company denies any wrongdoing.