HONOLULU(KHON2) — Monsanto has been one of the largest agricultural contributors in Hawaii since the 1960s. Thursday, the company plead guilty to illegally spraying Penncap-M on their research crops at the Valley Farm facility in Kihei in 2014.
Penncap-M contains methyl parathion, a pesticide banned by the EPA in 2013.
Court documents said that Monsanto knowingly used, transported and stored Penncap-M in violation of federal law.
Monsanto even admitted they told employees to re-enter the sprayed fields before they were safe.
Senator Roz Baker, who represents south and west Maui said she was horrified at the news.
“There are plenty of pesticides on the market that can be used for whatever they need. They didn’t need to use products that had been banned. And then to have their workers go back in before the required waiting period–it’s just appalling,” Baker said.
Monsanto has to pay $10 million– $6 million criminal fine and $4 million in community services to the state and county, including DLNR and the Dept of Agriculture.
“It’s a sizeable fine. Is it the largest fine? I’m hoping that Monsanto will do the right thing, pay it, not quibble, and stop using these pesticides or get out of Maui…They knew they shouldn’t have used them, they did it anyway. I don’t know how they ever earn the communities trust again,” Baker said.
Ilana Waxman said she’s not surprised. Waxman is an attorney representing several Maui families who filed a lawsuit against Monsanto in October, claiming the company’s use of illegal pesticides caused birth defects in their children.
“Monsanto’s illegal conduct spraying banned pesticide is just part of its learned practice of displaying a criminal disregard for the health and safety of Monsanto workers and for the surrounding communities by using of toxic pesticides on Maui and Molokai,” Waxman said.
She calling on Monsanto to provide complete public disclosure on their use and storage of toxic pesticides.
The case is a result of a criminal investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In a statement, Jay Green the Special-Agent-in-Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Hawaii said: “The EPA will continue to work in close partnership with our state and local counterparts to bring cases against those who knowingly threaten the health and safety of Hawaiian communities.”
Monsanto Company has entered into agreements with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) pursuant to which the Company will make community payments totaling $4.0 million to agencies in Hawaii and pay approximately $6.2 million in additional fines, plead guilty to one violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), receive two years of probation, and enter into a two-year deferred prosecution agreement regarding two violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). These agreements have been filed with a federal court in Hawaii and are subject to approval by the court.
The matter relates generally to the 2014 application and storage of Penncap-M in Hawaii by Monsanto Company. Monsanto Company reported the 2014 Penncap-M application to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. Monsanto Company did not live up to its own standards or the applicable laws. Monsanto Company is not aware of any reported human health or environmental impacts as a result of these incidents.
“The health and safety of our community, employees and environment have always been our number one priority,” said Darren Wallis, Bayer Vice President of Communications, North America. “As stewards of the land, it is our responsibility to use agriculture products safely and to manage our waste correctly. We take this very seriously and accept full responsibility for our actions. We have taken steps to improve internal processes and implemented additional training. We did not live up to our own standards or the law. We have acknowledged this as part of our agreements with the Department of Justice, which are pending in federal district court. We accept responsibility and are deeply sorry.”