The Black Farmers Association has done something no one else has had the courage or resources to do: sue Bayer/Monsanto to stop selling Roundup. Moms Across America applauds this much-needed lawsuit and the commitment of the lawyers from Napoli & Shkolnik.
ST. LOUIS — The National Black Farmers Association filed on Wednesday a federal lawsuit to block Creve Coeur-based agribusiness giant Monsanto and its German parent company, Bayer, from selling the weedkiller Roundup.
The suit alleges that Black farmers across the country have been forced to use Roundup-resistant seeds and Roundup in increasingly heavier applications, and that Monsanto failed to inform the farmers of the weedkiller’s risks.
“The cycle can only be broken by removing the product from the market,” Chris Schnieders, a partner at Napoli & Shkolnik in Kansas City and one of the attorneys who filed suit, said at a Wednesday press conference.
Jim Onder, an attorney from the St. Louis-based Onder Law Firm and a co-counsel for the suit, said there are at least 25,000 alleged cancer victims who have not settled with Bayer. Some of those are members of the National Black Farmers Association who sued Wednesday.
The organization represents 109,000 Black farmers in 42 states. Wednesday’s suit alleges that thousands of those farmers have used Roundup for decades. Some have already been injured by the product, the suit says. Others believe they are developing cancer.
The suit says Monsanto has slowly bought up seed companies and shelf space in local seed stores, “crowding out conventional varieties,” and practically requiring growers to adopt seeds that are genetically modified to withstand Roundup herbicide. An “overwhelming majority” of Black farmers, the suit says, use the product and are disproportionately affected by the risks associated with it.
“I don’t know a Black farmer that has not used the product,” Boyd said at the press conference. “That’s how big the issue is.”
Those farmers, he added, face compounded risks as members of groups that have historically been denied access to outreach and technical assistance about ways to best use the chemical. Black farmers, “due to long-documented disparities in literacy and education rates,” have been particularly hurt by the lack of a “plain, clear warning” on Roundup products, the suit alleges. And Monsanto has told them for decades that Roundup products are safe, the suit says.
Moreover, the weeds Roundup was meant to kill, pigweed and broadleaf species, are becoming more and more resistant to the herbicide, the suit says, requiring farmers to use more Roundup, and also other dangerous chemicals.
The suit asks the court to block Monsanto from continuing to market and sell Roundup, to force Monsanto to remove the products from store shelves, and to more clearly label the product’s dangers.
Ben Crump, a co-counsel for the Black farmers association, also represents the family of George Floyd, killed by a police officer in Minneapolis.
Again, Moms Across America is thrilled that the Black Farmers Association has sued Bayer/Monsanto. The removal of glyphosate herbicides and all toxic chemicals from the market supports the health of farmers of all races, of children, pregnant mothers, consumers, and wildlife species of all kinds. Standing for the health and safety of black farmers means standing for the health and safety of all. Thank you. National Black Farmers Association and lawyers!