Monsanto agreed to pay $12 million and plead guilty to federal charges that it illegally sent workers into fields that had been sprayed with pesticide, and that it violated a prior deferred prosecution agreement regarding the storage of a banned pesticide.
In a plea agreement filed in Hawaii federal court, the company said it will plead guilty to sending its workers, on 30 separate occasions in 2020, into cornfields that had been sprayed with Forfeit 280 during a six-day period during which no one is supposed to come into contact with sprayed plants. Those instances violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, as well as a 2019 deferred prosecution agreement the company had reached with the U.S. Department of Justice. The cornfields in Hawaii are used for seed propagation.
For violating the deferred prosecution agreement, Monsanto also agreed to plead guilty to two charges that would have been dismissed. Those charges are that the company illegally stored an “acute hazardous waste” in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. In this case, the substance was Penncap-M, a restricted use pesticide that could not be purchased or used by the public, and was supposed to only be used by a certified applicator because of the dangers it posed.
Under the plea agreement, Monsanto agreed to pay a $6 million criminal fine, as well as an additional $6 million in community service payments. The company has already paid about $10 million in fines and payments related to the case.
Bayer AG acquired Monsanto in 2018.