Maryland AG files lawsuit against agrochemical company Monsanto
BALTIMORE, Md. – Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Monsanto for the harm that chemicals the company manufactured have and continue to cause harm to the state’s land, waters, fish, and wildlife.
The lawsuit is seeking to recover damages and clean-up costs associated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The suit alleges that Monsanto knew as early as 1937 that PCBs had systemic toxic effects in humans and animals. It is also alleged that Monsanto knew that PCBs are highly durable and do not naturally break down.
Between 1935 and 1977, Monsanto was the only company in the U.S. to manufacture PCBs for widespread commercial use. PCBs were eventually banned in the country in 1979, but they are reportedly continued to pollute Maryland’s natural resources and waterways, including the Susquehanna River, Baltimore Harbor, and the Chesapeake Bay, as well as fish and wildlife throughout the state.
“As the complaint alleges, Monsanto knew that PCBs were toxic and harmful to the environment, wildlife, and humans,” said Attorney General Frosh. “Monsanto not only continued to manufacture and sell PCBs but increased production even when the harm to the environment was undeniable. Monsanto’s toxic legacy lives on. Until today, Marylanders have borne the cost of cleaning up these poisons. It is time for Monsanto to take full responsibility.”
We’re told that even though Monsanto knew how harmful and persistent PCBs were, internal documents show that it fretted that it could not “afford to lose one dollar of business”. It continued manufacturing, marketing, and selling more and more PCBs because “selfishly too much Monsanto profit” would be lost if it told the truth.
According to the CDC, PCBs are known to cause cancer in animals and the Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that they are probable human carcinogens. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, PCB exposure can cause cancer, depressed immune system function, skin conditions such as acne and rashes, irritation of the nose and lungs, gastrointestinal discomfort, changes in the blood and liver, depression, fatigue, and impaired learning capacity.
Delaware filed a similar lawsuit against Monsanto in September 2021.
Bayer released on Tuesday the following statement in response to a complaint filed by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, a case involving claims of PCB pollution into the states’ lands and waters:
“We are reviewing this lawsuit and will respond to the complaint in greater detail at the appropriate time; however, we believe it is without merit. Monsanto voluntarily ceased its lawful manufacturing of PCBs more than 40 years ago, and never manufactured, used, or disposed of PCBs into Maryland’s lands or waters, and therefore should not be held liable for the contamination alleged by the state. Where it has been determined that those cleanups are necessary, federal, and state authorities employ an effective system to identify dischargers and allocate clean-up responsibilities. Litigation of the sort brought by the state risks undermining these efforts.”