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Monsanto pleads guilty to pesticide-related crimes in Hawaiʻi

The sign at Monsanto headquarters in St. Louis.

HONOLULU — The Monsanto Company pleaded guilty Thursday to illegally using and storing agricultural chemicals in Hawaiʻi, and will pay $12 million in fines.

Monsanto, now owned by German pharmaceutical company Bayer, agreed to plead guilty to the charges in December. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Seabright in Hawaiʻi accepted the terms on Thursday.

Monsanto was charged with 30 environmental crimes after allowing workers to go into corn fields on Oʻahu in 2020 after a product named Forfeit 280 was sprayed.

Federal law prohibits people from entering areas where the chemical is sprayed within six days of application.

Monsanto was sentenced to three years of probation in addition to the fines and will continue an “environmental compliance program” overseen by a third-party auditor.

The company also pleaded guilty to two felonies related to the storage of a banned chemical on Maui and Molokaʻi.

“The company repeatedly violated laws related to highly regulated chemicals, exposing people to pesticides that can cause serious health problems,” said U.S. Attorney Tracy Wilkison after the plea deal was made.

Monsanto said no adverse health effects were reported.

"The conduct at issue in the agreement is unacceptable and contrary to the values and policies of the company, and we sincerely regret it,” said Darren Wallis, Monsanto’s vice president of communications, in a statement.

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