On Monday Ohios Attorney General announced a lawsuit against one of the most dominant companies in the agriculture industry, Monsanto, saying that the company hid the dangers posed by a toxic chemical compound it manufactured for over two decades.
The Mike DeWine filed the lawsuit in the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in Cincinnati, the prosecutors argued that the company should pay for the clean-up of what it says are dozens of rivers, lakes and other water bodies contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, also known as PCBs.
The suit alleges that Monsanto learned of PCBs’ toxic effects in the 1930s, yet it kept producing the compound while concealing its effects.
The suit says the company acknowledged that prolonged exposure could produce “systemic toxic effects” in an internal memo in 1937, so it undertook a “decades-long campaign of misinformation and deception.”
The company stopped manufacturing the chemical in 1977 and it was banned in 1979 by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy, told the Associated Press the company was still reviewing the lawsuit and was planning an aggressive defense.
Partridge said in a statement:
“Monsanto sold PCBs to many industrial and manufacturing customers, as well as the U.S. government, which put them to various uses and disposed of them in different ways. We are still reviewing this lawsuit, and we will defend ourselves aggressively.”
According to the suit, Monsanto produced nearly all of the PCBs — which were used in everything from lubricants to electrical equipment — in the United States between 1929 and 1977.
The chemical has been linked to cancer, liver damage and other negative health effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.