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Reflection and Response to the Class Action Against Monsanto - Research Paper in Law

6 pages
1516 words
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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Question 1#: How would you argue a class action against Monsanto on behalf of a class of farmers seeking redress for GM drift, and do you imagine the case would succeed in court?

In my opinion, the success of the lawsuit filed in the court relies on the evidence presented by the plaintiff against the accused. However, the impending case may succeed in the court of law considering the detrimental effects on the farmers. Here are some of the considerations that will determine: Firstly, the devastating effects of dicamba, a potent herbicide designed for the genetically modified seed cannot be overruled. This product tended to drift onto the neighborhood farms after being utilized, and it later caused damage to millions of acres of fertile lands (Paul, 2017). Secondly, the complaints of the misuse, as well as the harmful effects of dicamba, has steadily grown in at least 21 U.S. states, and therefore the current one cannot be said to be based on the baseless claims (McGowan, 2017). It does not include thousands of complaints observed in Arkansas, which led to complete of the herbicide in the state. The volatility of the herbicide, as well as its propensity to move onto offsite locations, has been a significant base of the claims (Gillam, 2017). As part of the evidence, on behalf of farmers, the 3 million acres of American farmland have been impacted through the misuse of dicamba. Even after knowing the potential impacts of the application of this Dicamba, the Montano Company knew that the purchasers would have to use dicamba for protecting their crops from different herbs, but did not inform the farmers about the same. It also chose to sell the seeds before the farmers could safely cultivate them (Gillam, 2017).

As part of its defense, Monsanto argued that the lawsuit against it was whole without merit and that the company would defend its position by the law. The company believed that the lawsuit was baseless and sought a unique law application by attempting to impose the liability on the defendant that did not participate in the manufacture of the product that allegedly caused the damage. In the same way, the company maintained that it sells the herbicide that led to the loss and in fact warned against the use of the product in the complaint. In the statement, Monsanto further said that the lawsuit was an approach used by the complainant to shift the responsibility away from the people who deliberately violated the laws and harmed other people in the process.

But why is Monsanto Company trying to defend itself while there is enough evidence to show that it acted against its business objectives? First, a huge number of small-scale farmers from various states such as Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, North Carolina, Illinois and Kentucky all suffered from the effects of the alleged products. Secondly, Monsanto resorted to selling the products after failing to get the approval from the appropriate approval authority. In fact, the company permitted farmers to use its two products namely Xtend cotton and Soybeans, which are both substantially tolerant to dicamba herbicide. While the companys actions may be appropriate as the profit-oriented business would do, it did not avail a safe herbicide to use to protect the crops from dangerous weeds (Muller, 2006). The farmers purportedly then illegally used existing dicamba instructions, which flowed and caused severe damages in the neighborhoods.

The related cases and complaints from across the world can also be used as evidence to either implicate the Monsanto Company against the lawsuit filed against it or not. In my opinion, the class action against Monsanto on behalf of a class of farmers would integrate the following arguments, whose reading, proper analysis and interpretation will lead and enhance the quick arrival to the determination and decisions.

Firstly, the fight against Monsanto is indeed a global one based on the fact that the glyphosate is sprayed utilized across the world. The Europe has been particularly vocal against Monsanto over the past few years (Scoones, 2008). France notably banned the use of Monsantos herbicide to the public in 2015. The Netherlands also banned its sale and this over later put pressure on the European Union to follow this lead. Other than the potential effects on the crops, scientific studies have shown an association between the chemical and increased risks of cancer, particularly those who come into contact with it. Notably, the French government has experienced more than 1100 lawsuits on behalf of the agricultural laborers and gardeners who suffer from the non-Hodgkins lymphoma through the use of glyphosate (Mueller, 2017).

Secondly, from the legal point of view, the American constitutions stipulates clearly that when a consumer falls victim to any fraudulent through buying a product or service that does not align with the seller's promises and mission, then they suffer losses equal to the amount they paid (Bullard, 2008). Besides, some incidental expenses may also be included. Under these circumstances, however, loss of the consumer will provide a representation of a portion of the quantity of money it would cost in bringing the lawsuit against the seller (Sadeleer, 2006). As in the case, therefore, this class action lawsuit offers an insight into the power balance in favor of the consumer just as the law stipulates (Kershen, 2004). The law further allows all the individuals who feel that their rights have been violated to join together with others who express similar concerns or claims against the same defendant. The case is likely to succeed based on the economy of scale that exists with the class action lawsuit, because these group of victims drawn from Arkansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, and Kentucky presented a severe litigation threat even to other large companies. These companies could also fall the victim of the same fraud (Kershen, 2004). The relatively small amount of the economic damage that consumer suffers from a companys improper conduct is a significant challenge facing the consumer rights victims.

In the process of questioning whether or not the court of law will uphold the lawsuit filed on behalf of the farmers against the Monsanto Company, the court of law will read and interpret the variety of evidence presented in the lawsuit to arrive at the determination. The following can be the summary of the case:

Regarding damages alleged, Monsanto will be charged guilty by the court of law for causing the injuries. In fact, a huge number of small-scale farmers from various states such as Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, North Carolina, Illinois and Kentucky all suffered from the effects of the alleged products.

Regarding alleged negligence, Monsanto Company will be charged guilty for violating its rights as well as that of the consumers. Consumers have exclusive rights to appropriate and timely information about the products offered to them. As filed in the lawsuit, Monsanto opted to sell its products the moment it failed to get the approval from the appropriate approval authority. In fact, it allowed farmers to utilize its two products namely Xtend cotton and Soybeans. These products are highly tolerant to dicamba herbicide.

Regarding strict liability, the defendant will be charged guilty. From the lawsuit, it is undeniable that the company decided to sell its two products without getting any approval from the approving authority. Even after making the sale, it did not avail the information about the safety of such products but maintained its silence.

Regarding trespass, Monsanto Company is not guilty because the alleged interference was not direct. While it is undeniable that a considerable number of farmers from across primary US states were detrimentally affected, the defendant did not directly participate in causing the damage and consequently violating the consumers right. The damage observed on the crops perhaps originated from the volatility of the chemicals, which made it flow to the neighbourhoods. This charges as filed against the defendant will, therefore, be dismissed.

In conclusion, the class action against Monsanto on behalf of a class of farmers seeking redress for GM drift will, therefore, succeed by strict liability, negligence, and alleged damaged caused by the plaintiff. Based on the weight of the violations and damage, the court will order the accused to provide compensation for the same amount or whichever amount as deemed well for justice fulfillment.



Bullard, R. D. (2008). Dumping in Dixie: Race, class, and environmental quality. Westview Press

Gillam, C. (2017). New Claims against Monsanto in Consumer Lawsuit over Roundup Herbicide. Eco watch

Kershen, D. L. (2004). Legal liability issues in agricultural biotechnology. Crop Science, 44(2), 456-463.

McGowan, Hood vs. Felder, LLC (2017). Monsanto is Being Sued for Misleading the Public about the Dangers of Roundup. McGowan hood

Mueller, A. (2017). Class action lawsuit filed against Monsanto in Missouri. St. Louis Business Journal

Muller, B. (2006). Infringing and trespassing plants: Patented seeds at dispute in Canada's courts. Focaal, 2006(48), 83-98

Paul, C. (2017). Monsanto has violated the basic human right to a healthy environment and food: Judges at The Hague called on international lawmakers to hold corporations like Monsanto accountable. Salon. Com

Scoones, I. (2008). Mobilizing against GM crops in India, South Africa and Brazil. Journal of agrarian change, 8(23), 315-344.

Sadeleer, N. D. (2006). The precautionary principle in EC health and environmental law. European Law Journal, 12(2), 139-172.


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