HONOLULU (KHON2) — Monsanto has agreed to plead guilty, as well as pay fines that total $22.2 million for 30 environmental crimes and for violating previous charges both in relation to illegally using and/or storing pesticides on Oahu, Maui and Molokai.
According to the United States Department of Justice, the company will plead guilty to two charges associated with storing a banned pesticide at a Molokai facility, which was the subject of a 2019 Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA).
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In the court documents filed on Thursday, Dec. 9, Monsanto admitted that they “committed 30 misdemeanor crimes related to the use of a glufosinate ammonium-based product sold under the brand name Forfeit 280,” reported by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Forfeit 280 was used on Oahu cornfields in Lower Kunia and Haleiwa in 2020. Monsanto then allowed its workers to enter the fields 30 times within the six-day “restricted-entry interval.” The plea agreement filed Thursday called for Monsanto to serve three years of probation, pay $12 million, as well as do another three years in an environmental compliance program.
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Justice reported the company’s use of Forfeit 280 also violated a 2019 DPA where the company agreed to plead guilty for illegally using a banned pesticide, Penncap-M, in 2014 on research crops at their Valley Farm facility on Kihei, Maui — even though they were aware that it was prohibited after 2013.
In a statement from Monsanto:
“The conduct at issue in the agreement is unacceptable and contrary to the values and policies of the company, and we sincerely regret it.”
In the 2019 case, Monsanto further admitted telling their employees to enter the fields seven days after they were sprayed with the illegal pesticide — even though the company knew workers were not allowed to enter for 31 days.
Between March 2013 and August 2014, it was discovered Monsanto stored 160 pounds of Penncap-M hazardous waste at a Molokai facility, despite the pesticide being on their list of chemicals needed to be disposed of. This banned pesticide was also stored at three sites on Maui — Valley Farm, Maalaea and Piilani — that totaled 111 gallons.
When the company transported Penncap-M to Valley Farm in 2014, it violated federal law by not using proper shipping displays to identify hazardous material; they also did not obtain a permit to have hazardous waste at the Valley Farm site.
For the 2019 DPA and previous guilty plea, Monsanto paid $10.2 million. For the plea agreement filed Thursday, they will pay a $6 million criminal fine and $6 million in community service. Both payments will total $22.2 million paid by Monsanto.
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Monsanto representatives will appear in the U.S. District Court to enter guilty pleas for 32 offenses, stated the U.S. Department of Justice.