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Monsanto Pleads Guilty To Illegal Pesticide Use On Research Crop

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Monsanto on Thursday pleaded guilty to illegally using a banned pesticide known as Penncap-M on research crops at one of its facilities on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

The agro-chemicals company will pay $10 million for charges that it unlawfully stored the banned pesticide, which had to be managed as an acute hazardous waste. The banned pesticide is specifically methyl parathion, the active ingredient in Penncap-M.

In court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, Monsanto agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor offense of unlawfully spraying the banned pesticide on corn seed and research crops at its Valley Farm facility in Kihei, Hawaii in 2014.

Monsanto, now owned by Bayer Group of Germany, admitted it used Penncap-M despite knowing it was prohibited by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2013.

The company also admitted that after the 2014 spraying, it told employees to re-enter the sprayed fields a week later even though it knew that workers should have been prohibited from entering the area for 31 days.

"The illegal conduct in this case posed a threat to the environment, surrounding communities and Monsanto workers. Federal laws and regulations impose a clear duty on every user of regulated and dangerous chemicals to ensure the products are safely stored, transported and used," said United States Attorney Nick Hanna.

The documents filed also include a deferred prosecution agreement related to two felony counts of unlawfully storing an acute hazardous waste.

Under the deal with prosecutors, Monsanto will pay $10 million - a $6 million criminal fine and $4 million in community service payments to five Hawaiian government entities.

In relation to the criminal count to which Monsanto has agreed to plead guilty, the company has agreed to be on probation for two years and to pay the maximum possible fine of $200,000.

The government agreed to dismiss the felony charges in two years, if Monsanto abides by the terms of the agreement.

This includes Monsanto paying a total of $10.2 million, successfully completing a two-year period of compliance with the agreement's terms, and maintaining a comprehensive environmental compliance program at all of its facilities in Hawaii.

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