US agribusiness giant Monsanto has been fined US$10.2M for using a banned pesticide on corn seed and research crops in Maui, Hawaii, Courthouse News wrote on 21 November.
Monsanto agreed to plead guilty to spraying methyl parathion – the active ingredient in Penncap-M –crops at its Valley Farm facility in Kihei in 2014.
The company admitted that it used Penncap-M while knowing of its 2013 prohibition by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Monsanto also admitted that it told employees to re-enter the sprayed fields seven days later despite knowing that the workers should not enter the area for 31 days, Courthouse News reported.
Under a deal with prosecutors, Monsanto agreed to pay a US$6M criminal fine, US$4M in community service payments to several government agencies and an additional US$200,000 fine.
If the company successfully completed a two-year period of compliance with the agreement’s terms, the government would agree to dismiss two felony charges for unlawfully transporting and storing hazardous waste at locations on Maui and Moloka’I islands, Courthouse News wrote.
“The illegal conduct in this case posed a threat to the environmental, surrounding communities and Monsanto workers,” said US attorney Nick Hanna. “Federal laws and regulations imposed a clear duty on every user of regulated and dangerous chemicals to ensure the products are safely stored, transported and used.”
Monsanto stored 72kg of Penncap-M hazardous waste at its Moloka’i facility from March 2013 to August 2014, even though the pesticide was on the company’s lists of chemicals that needed disposal.
The company also stored 420 litres of the pesticide at Valley Farm, Maalaea and Piilani.
Monsanto was acquired by German pharmaceutical giant Bayer in June 2018 for US$63bn and is currently facing 42,700 cancer lawsuits in the USA over its glyphosate-based weedkiller, Roundup.