Monsanto has agreed to pay a $2.5 million penalty for violating a U.S. pesticide law. The agreement resolves misbranding violations related to the sale and distribution of cotton seed products containing genetically engineered pesticides, reports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
This is the largest civil administrative penalty settlement ever received under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), according to the EPA.
At issue is Monsanto’s Bollgard and Bollgard II cotton seed products that contain genetically engineered pesticides known as plant incorporated protectants (PIPs), which are registered as a pesticidal product under FIFRA.
EPA included planting restrictions on Bollgard and Bollgard II, which contain the PIP Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), as a condition of registrations. This required Monsanto to control the sale and distribution of the cotton seed by including information on the planting restrictions in its labeling and grower guides.
In 2007, Monsanto told the EPA that it had distributed misbranded Bollgard and Bollgard II cotton seed to customers in the Texas counties where EPA had restricted its planting to protect against pests becoming resistant to Bt PIPs and other microbial products used in sprays and dusts.
EPA says Monsanto distributed or sold the cotton products more than 1,700 times nationwide without the planting restrictions in its grower guides and that Bollgard and Bollgard II cotton was planted in the restricted Texas counties.
Monsanto subsequently corrected the grower guides. In September 2008, EPA lifted the planting restriction in the 10 Texas counties for Bollgard II, after Monsanto applied for a change in the registration of that product.
In 2006, Syngenta Seeds agreed to pay a $1.5 million penalty to EPA for selling and distributing seed corn that contained an unregistered genetically engineered pesticide (Bt 10).
Click here for more information about how EPA, USDA and FDA are involved in the federal regulation of genetically engineered plants.