The tale of Monsanto’s (MON) biotech-engineered “Roundup Ready” wheat continued on Tuesday as Morton County, Kansas farmer Ernest Barnes, file suit in U.S. District court in Witchita, claiming he and other local farmers have been financially injured by the discovery of the unapproved wheat growing around the country.
The petition filed on behalf of Barnes claims “Monsanto has released GE (genetically engineered) wheat into the non-genetically modified wheat population”, and that “plaintiff has been harmed by any and all Monsanto GE wheat because it has impacted wheat exports and the price of wheat,” according to a Reuters report.
Lawyers for Monsanto reacted to the suit swiftly, with David Snively, Monsanto’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel firing back that “Tractor-chasing lawyers have prematurely filed suit without any evidence of fault and in advance of the crop’s harvest.”
The issue of the genetically engineered wheat has become highly charged, as Monsanto recently won a lawsuit heard before the U.S. Supreme Court in which an Indiana farmer used Roundup Ready seeds to plant a field in violation of his contract with Monsanto.
At the same time, a U.S. Senate bill dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act” is being vigorously attacked by environmentalists and at least on U.S. Senator, as the legislation includes language protecting manufacturers of genetically modified crop seeds from lawsuits.
The issue became headline news in late May when a wheat farmer in Oregon discovered Monsanto’s GE wheat growing on his farm. Monsanto had been field testing its product across a number of states, but it was meant to be isolated and not contaminate adjacent wheat fields.
The discovery of the Roundup Ready wheat in non-test fields has caused global concern over the possibility of contaminated food, with South Korea and Japan suspending U.S. wheat purchases, and European Union officials suggesting they will test all imports for contamination.
Written by Marc Bastow, Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing he does not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.