Monsanto said on Wednesday it has entered into a settlement agreement with wheat farmers in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi to resolve lawsuits stemming from the 2013 discovery of an unapproved GMO wheat variety found growing in an Oregon field.
Farmers sought damages for temporary limits on certain exports of soft white wheat that followed the discovery.
Under the settlement and without any admission of liability, Monsanto has agreed to make donations of $50,000 to the agricultural school at the land grant university in each state to further the interests of wheat farmers and the wheat industry.
"Rather than paying the costs of protracted litigation, this agreement puts that money to work in research and development efforts for the wheat industry," Kyle McClain, Monsanto chief litigation counsel said in a statement. "Resolution in this manner is reasonable and in the best interest of all of the parties."
As part of the resolution of these claims, Monsanto said it will also reimburse plaintiffs and their counsel for a portion of their out-of-pocket costs and fees associated with this litigation.
"We believe this is a unique and fair mechanism for resolving the claims of Midwest and Southeast wheat farmers," said a statement from interim lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the settling cases, Patrick Pendley of Pendley, Boudin & Coffin, L.L.P. in Plaquemine, La.
"The settlement fairly and equitably resolves our clients' claims in a manner that will benefit all wheat industry farmers in the states receiving donations."
This settlement will not resolve claims that remain pending by wheat growers in Arkansas who also filed suit, Monsanto clarified. A full listing of settled suits is available on the Monsanto website.
Monsanto previously settled additional lawsuits regarding the GMO wheat discovery with wheat growers' associations and farmers last November.
In that settlement, a total of $250,000 was awarded to the National Wheat Foundation, Washington Association of Wheat Growers, the Oregon Wheat Growers' League, and the Idaho Grain Producers' Association.
An additional $2.125 million was awarded to farmers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho who sold soft white wheat between May 30, 2013, and Nov. 30, 2013.
The investigation concluded that the GMO wheat volunteers indeed were "representative of a wheat breeding program" and not a commercial variety.
Catch up on the Oregon GE Wheat story:
May 29, 2013: USDA Identifies GE Glyphosate-Resistant Volunteer Wheat
May 31, 2013: GE Wheat Investigation Will Take Time, USDA Says
June 5, 2013: GMO Wheat Discovery Yields Lawsuit
June 6, 2013: Monsanto Not Ruling Out 'Purposeful' Release of GE Wheat
June 17, 2013: USDA GE Wheat Investigation Continues
June 19, 2013: U.S. Representative Wants Answers on GE Wheat
June 24, 2013: Monsanto Says GM Wheat Release Remains 'Suspicious'
Sept. 26, 2014: USDA Investigating Unapproved GMO Wheat Found Growing In Montana