Seven Texas farm workers are alleging a range of crimes committed by biotech giant Monsanto. Courthouse News Service is reporting that lead plaintiff Jose Cardenas has filed a lawsuit against Monsanto recruiter Milo Inc. and Milo Inc.’s president, as well as Monsanto itself. Cardenas is one of seven field workers who are attempting to show a wide-ranging exploitation scam that made promises which were later withdrawn. According to the plaintiffs:
Monsanto promised (the) seven Texas field workers and their children free housing with kitchens in Indiana, then charged them $300 a room, exposed them to pesticides and underpaid them, the men claim in Federal Court.
The abuses also included unsanitary conditions that violated agricultural safety and health codes; among the violations, a school bus that was converted into a kitchen facility:
The workers say the bus did not have enough stoves for the number of laborers in the camp, lacked adequate sinks with hot and cold water, did not have enough lighting and ventilation or enough chairs and tables.
This is not the first lawsuit against Monsanto to make claims of horrific mistreatment; however, it seems to be the first such lawsuit brought inside the United States. A report issued in early 2012 documented abuse of illegal workers held in ‘slave-like’ conditions on plantations in Argentina. According to the report conducted by Argentina’s tax agency, workers were subjected to 14-hour days, forced to buy from the Monsanto company store, were prevented from leaving, and in some cases received zero compensation. (Source) Beyond the horrendous working conditions and slave wages, the new lawsuit brought in the U.S. also adds claims of outright poisoning due to the inherent toxicity of the pesticides used by Monsanto.
At the hybrid corn seed operation in Indiana where the Milo recruiting agency sent the plaintiffs in the U.S. case, their tasks were roguing, detasseling, husking and sorting.
The 29-page lawsuit states that:
Two or more of the working plaintiffs suffered illness or injuries from suspected pesticide exposure while working for defendants.
In Argentina, dozens of tobacco farmers sued Monsanto and tobacco companies in April of this year for a host of birth defects that they assert were caused by herbicides and pesticides – principally the herbicide Roundup, which has shown to be toxic to life in a mere parts-per-billion range.
The lawsuit stated that workers were told that conditions were safe and were not provided with protective equipment. As a result children were born with cerebral palsy, missing fingers, blindness and more. (Source)
Monsanto’s abuse of their workers, the public who consumes their products, and the environment seems to have no bounds. Farmers have committed suicide over their destructive practices; and, as a result, Monsanto is now being sued at an increasing rate by family farmers, workers, and consumers for their complete disregard for health and life.
The workers in this latest case are seeking damages under the Agricultural Worker Protection Act, and unpaid wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Let’s hope that justice is properly served.
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