Oregon Blueberry Farmer Sues Multinational Agricultural Company For Glyphosate Drift Damage

EnvironmentLegal News

An Oregon-based blueberry grower has sued a California-based multinational agricultural company, seeking $2 million in damages. The blueberry grower, William Vandehey, of Cornelius, Ore., claims that at least half of his blueberry bushes were damaged during last year’s growing season, allegedly because of glyphosate drift from an adjacent farm owned by Munger Bros., which owns agricultural operations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. 

Vandehey’s lawsuit claims that a Munger Bros. employee applied the controversial herbicide—which has been the focus of over 125,000 Roundup Weed Killer cancer lawsuits—while sustained wind speeds reached nearly 20 mph in May 2020.

According to the complaint, drift from glyphosate spraying caused “severe and long lasting damage” to Vandehey’s blueberry bushes.

The complaint also alleges that a Munger Bros. representative admitted to the glyphosate spraying to an investigator from the Oregon Department of Agriculture. However, said representative “misrepresented and falsified” the spray operation’s “extent and duration” to cover up the damage. 

A report by CapitalPress.com says that apart from the direct crop losses suffered last year, the herbicide damage is expected to reduce Vandehey’s blueberry yields for 3 to 6 years, the complaint said.

Munger Bros. is accused in the complaint of trespass and negligence that caused nearly $1 million in lost profits, income and other financial damages. In addition, Vandehey, the blueberry farmer, is seeking $1 million in punitive damages because, Munger Bros. acted with “malice and a reckless and outrageous indifference” by allegedly misting [Vandehey’s] elderly parents with the herbicide and trying to cover up the incident.

The claim also says that because of the damages to his blueberry crop, Vandehey may have to sell his farm equipment and property. 

“In the event that plaintiff is unable to secure financing to continue caring for and farming the damaged blueberry bushes, plaintiff reserves the right to replead its damages for a total loss of the family farm,” reads the claim. 

Glyphosate is the main active ingredient in the Roundup Weed Killer brand, which was invented by Monsanto. In 2018, the German-based pharmaceutical company, Bayer AG, acquired Monsanto for $63 million. Plaintiffs in Roundup lawsuits allege that the herbicide caused them to develop rare types of cancer, most notably, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Although the EPA has not banned the sale of Roundup, the agency recently issued a report that glyphosate likely harms several hundred endangered species of plants and animals. Moreover, new studies have been published that shows the herbicide/pesticide alters the gut microbiome in animals and humans. Another glyphosate study which was conducted on mice concluded that exposure to the weed killer leads to higher disease rates in future generations.

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