Suit blames birth defects in Maui community on Monsanto chemicals

Published: Oct. 25, 2019 at 12:40 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A lawsuit filed on Maui blames birth defects on chemicals from Monsanto corn fields.

The families who filed suit all lived in the same Kihei subdivision ― downwind from seed corn fields where their attorneys say pesticides and herbicides were heavily used.

The state, Monsanto and the seed industry have frequently defended the safety of the agricultural chemical use. But one of the goals of going to court is to force more information to go public.

Among those who sued: Dana Fulton, who was born on Maui in 1991.

She said her birth defect resulted in four major surgeries and hundreds of procedures. She now uses a tracheotomy tube.

The family home was in a North Kihei subdivion near two Monsanto cornfields.

Another family in the suit didn’t live far away.

Lory Marques said a Monsanto field was right behind her house. Her son, Max, developed numerous health issues as a child, including asthma and severe ADHD.

He also had kidney issues as a result of a rare birth defect.

Monsanto raises herbicide-resistant seeds on its fields in Hawaii. So critics believe multiple chemicals are heavily sprayed to test the seeds.

They say more studies need to be done and it may be hard to prove that specific chemicals caused any specific health condition.

Monsanto, the seed industry and the state have repeatedly said the chemicals are used safely ― usually in legislative hearings to oppose additional regulations.

The families who sued said they learned about a possible connection from advertising by the attorney.

Bayer Crop Science Hawaii, Monsanto’s parent company, issued this statement on the suit:

Safety is our top priority. On Maui, where many Bayer employees live near our farms, we take very seriously our responsibility to use all pesticide products safely and in accordance with the strict rules established by regulatory authorities. Every pesticide we use on our Maui farms has been comprehensively assessed and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and every Bayer employee who applies the pesticides has undergone extensive training to ensure safe use for surrounding communities. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture conducts oversight to further ensure safe use. We have great sympathy for the plaintiffs, but we are confident that pesticide use on our Maui farms did not cause the health claims described in the lawsuit.

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